It’s difficult to find a driver in Virginia or elsewhere in the US who’s not aware of the extreme risks of cell phone use while driving. The efforts of lawmakers, police enforcement, and Drive Smart Virginia, an initiative of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, have prevented countless traffic crashes by encouraging drivers to focus on the road. Still, awareness about the dangers of talking or texting hasn’t deterred motorists from engaging in other hazardous forms of distracted driving. Drivers are guilty of other habits and activities that can present an equal risk of fatal and injury-causing automobile accidents in Virginia.
Effects of Distracted Driving: A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stresses that distracted driving includes ANY activity that diverts a driver’s from the most important task at hand: Safe operation of the vehicle. Any activity that is not directly related to driving is a distraction that increases the potential for serious collisions. There are three basic ways that distractions can impact driving:
- Visually, as your eyes are diverted from the road, the car’s systems, and surrounding conditions;
- Manually, because some activities require you to take your hands away from the steering wheel and related operations; and,
- Cognitively, since some activities take your mind off the road and interfere with your focus.
Examples of Non-Phone Distracted Driving: There are statutes regarding cell phone use in every US state, including Virginia’s statute on use of handheld personal communication devices. However, other activities that qualify as distracted driving are not addressed. In the absence of a regulation, motorists may still engage in risky activities without fear of violating the law. Examples include:
Activities Loosely Associated with Driving: Though they may be related to driving, any acts that aren’t essential to operating the vehicle can interfere with a motorist’s focus. Using a GPS, playing music, and adjusting the heat or A/C are common distractions.
Personal Tasks: Drivers often attempt to multi-task during their commute or longer trips, grabbing a bite to eat or cup of coffee to enjoy on the ride. For women, grooming can be a distraction as they’re combing hair or putting on makeup. Any of these activities can lead to accidents by interfering with one or more of the three factors listed above.
Interactions with Passengers: You can even be distracted by participating in conversation with other occupants of the car, since the discussion may require cognitive thought. Though you can’t avoid conversation entirely, stick to minimal talking while driving.
Discuss Your Claim with a Virginia Car Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a crash that was caused by any type of distracted driving, solid legal representation is essential. Regardless of how clear-cut fault may seem, there are countless challenges in filing an insurance claim and in court. To learn how an experienced car accident lawyer can help, please contact our office in Buckingham, VA. Our team can set up a no-cost consultation with Herbert E. Maxey Jr., who can review your circumstances and advise you on your rights.