How serious are motor vehicle accidents? In Georgia, they’re the top cause of accidental deaths and the second-most common reason for emergency room visits and hospitalization. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia had the fourth largest number of traffic fatalities in the nation in 2017, even though it only has the eighth largest population.
Many of those fatalities and injuries are caused by distracted driving. While smartphone use behind the wheel is often (rightfully) pointed to as a primary culprit, there are actually all kinds of distractions that affect driving safety.
In general, distractions fall into three main categories: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions cause a driver to look away from the road, manual ones cause them to take their hands off the wheel, and cognitive ones make them divert their attention away from driving. Smartphone use can actually fall in to all three categories, which is what makes them particularly problematic.
You may not realize, however, that some other common activities are part of distracted driving. For example, you’re guilty of distracted driving when you:
- Decide to take your morning coffee on the go, which causes you to take at least one hand off the wheel and may mentally distract you for a while.
- Choose to eat your lunch on the way back to the office, which is something people do every day after a quick run to a local drive-thru restaurant.
- Try to entertain a child in the back seat or manage your pet on the way to the vet, which can cause you to take your eyes off the road, interfere with your steering and occupy too much of your mental power.
Even fiddling with the radio station or looking at the directions on your car’s guidance system can be a significant distraction.
It’s on everybody to reduce distracted driving accidents, so be as conscious as possible about your choices behind the wheel. That will keep you — and others — safer. Just the same, you can still end up in a wreck with a distracted driver. If that happens, you have every right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses.