Distracted Driving Goes Beyond Texting on Cell Phones

by Terry Bryant

We all know that distraction is one of the biggest hazards on our roads. There are constant debates by lawmakers and safety advocates over texting-while-driving laws. But we should remember that texting represents only one form of distracted driving.

For example, AAA estimates that around 60% of moderate-to-severe teen crashes involve distracted driving, but cell phone use isn’t the leading cause of teen driver distraction. “Too many passengers” is listed as the leading cause of distraction-related teen crashes. Taking on too many passengers in a vehicle can take a driver’s focus off the road and make a crash much more likely.

This statistic might come as a surprise, but it highlights the fact that distraction encompasses many different things and that communicating on cell phones is just one part of the challenge facing drivers.

Other Ways Drivers are Distracted

There are three ways in which drivers can be distracted – visually (eyes are not on the road), cognitively (mind is not on the task of driving), and physically (hands are not on the wheel). One of the main reasons that cell phones can be so hazardous is because they often involve all three types of distraction. But we can be distracted by many other things, too.

Any of these tasks might cause distraction if done behind the wheel:

  • Using navigation devices or maps (a common practice by Lyft and Uber drivers)
  • Talking or eating
  • Looking in the mirror
  • Grooming
  • Reaching for an object in the vehicle
  • Looking at something other than the road and vehicles ahead
  • Using the car stereo
  • Talking to other passengers
  • Loud music or noises in the vehicle.

Even devices that are “hands-free” can cause distraction. For example, studies suggest that brain activity processing moving images is reduced by up to one-third when a person is listening or talking on a phone.

Most of the laws aimed at preventing distracted driving focus on the use of a cell phone or mobile device, specifically the act of texting. While these laws might help curb some of the most notorious distracted driving practices, they fail to address several others.

With the rise of Uber and, now, the re-emergence of Lyft in Houston, it’s also important to consider the implications of distraction among rideshare services. Cell phone-related distraction is typically thought of in the context of a driver sending texts or essentially “socializing” while behind the wheel, but to the drivers of rideshare services, it’s a necessary part of the job. Drivers must interact with the app and use navigation systems on their phones to give customers a ride. The fact that rideshare drivers must use phones while driving seems to represent a flaw in the rideshare system, one that almost ensures that the driver won’t be able to fully focus on the road ahead.

When Negligence Causes Your Crash

If you’ve been involved in a vehicle crash, it might not be obvious what type of error or negligent behavior contributed to the other driver’s recklessness. This is one of the key roles a personal injury attorney plays when a crash victim chooses to file a claim. If the police report doesn’t list the contributing factors and there are no witnesses, an attorney might be able to piece together the causes and the level of fault by the reckless driver.

At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we have been representing clients in motor vehicle accident cases for over three decades. We have the experience, skill, and resources available to make sure our clients get the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, you should not have to pay the costs associated with your injury. To schedule a free consultation with our firm, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.