Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like. Distracted driving is driving while distracted. These distractions can range anywhere from eating to using a cell phone while driving- texting or calling, from loud music to having friends and family members in the car with you while you are driving. Almost anything can be a distraction as long as it takes your attention away from driving for anytime as short as five seconds. In fact, one study it said that eighty percent of all crashes and collisions and that at least sixty five percent of near crashes and collisions have to do with the driver being inattentive or distracted while behind the wheel. Three seconds may not seem like a very long at all, and it may not be but when you are behind the wheel of a two ton block of metal three seconds can change everything. There is countless case after case about drivers being distracted and getting into a fatal car accident. To drive safely on the road it takes one hundred percent of your full attention to what you are doing.
There are many different kinds of distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, classifies the biggest and most common driver distractions into two categories and four subcategories. The two broad categories are distractions that happen inside the vehicle and distractions that happen outside the vehicle. Distractions that happen outside the vehicle are things like billboards, especially if they have bright colors or just in general a distracting image, someone spinning or holding a sign to attract business for their shop or car wash, animals such as birds, or anything that could possibly be happening in the outside world. Then comes the four subcategories of the main category of distractions that happen inside the car. These four subcategories are cognitive distractions, visual distractions, auditory distractions, and biomechanical distractions.
Cognitive distractions have to do with any kind of mental distraction. This could be anywhere from day dreaming to talking on a cell phone while driving, since your attention is not fully on driving and what you are doing. Having a conversation with someone else is another example of a cognitive distraction, whether it is with someone who is in the car with you at the moment or a phone call. A visual distraction is something that causes you to take your eyes off the road. This could be a billboard or a flashing light or even another accident. You would think with people and government trying to cut down on car accidents there would be more restrictions on billboards and people holding and spinning signs on the side off the road to try and attract drivers into their businesses.
However, I am also not exactly an expert on billboard laws on street side laws, as far as I could know these people and billboards could be breaking the law. Auditory distractions are any distractions caused by a sound. Having a conversation with someone who is either in the car with you or talking to them on the cell phone could also be classified as an auditory distraction since having a conversation creates sound. Another common auditory distraction is loud music. When you have your music on too loudly in the car you are impairing your ability to hear other cars honking at you or an emergency vehicle’s siren signaling you to move out of the way. Both of these things could cause serious issues. An auditory distraction could even be listening to the directions given by a fellow passenger or a GPS. The last of the four subcategories of distractions that happen inside the car is a biomechanical distraction. A biomechanical distraction is defined as any mechanical act not specifically related to driving that the driver does. This could be as simple as a push of button or the changing of a radio station.
This goes to show that simple things that you would not think would cause an accident or be an issue while driving can in fact cause an accident. Many of these driving accidents are fatal or leave the driver and the other passengers in the car seriously injured. Just last night, Thursday the seventeenth of July, my father himself was in a car accident as a result of distracted driving. He was driving down a road where there was a bad accident on the other side, emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances were everywhere. His lane was pretty clear and moving however the car in front of him abruptly slammed and their brakes and stopped in the middle of the lane. My father did not have to react fully and when he slammed on his brakes his car was not able to come to a complete stop and ended up ramming into the car that stopped in front him. This car stopped to take a look at the accident that was the other side of the road which is just plain ironic since they ended up causing an accident of their own. Luckily in the accident my father was involved in both parties involved turned out okay and virtually unharmed.
However, my father’s car is most likely totaled although we will not know for certain until we take it in to be checked. When people are in accidents due to distracted driving not everybody is so lucky, many distracted driving accidents are fatal. Another personal real life example of distracted driving causing a serious injury is what happened to my cousin when he was in high school. The football team, which he was a part of, was driving home one night after an away game in the rain. The driver of the bus was already at a higher risk of getting in an accident since it was raining at night while he was driving a car full of people. The bus driver got distracted for a split second and the bus swerved off the slippery road into a nearby ditch.
My cousin, Brian, ended up being paralyzed from the waist down and hasn’t been able to walk since this accident happened twenty odd years ago. However, he did not let this accident ruin his life. He decided he wanted to help other people that were paralyzed or in similar situations to him. He is now a surgeon and does lots of stem cell research. He is also happily married with three kids. Both of these accidents did not end in fatality, but there are accidents caused by being distracted that end in death every day. It is one of the biggest causes of all accidents to this date. Keep this in mind when you are driving down the road. Everything can wait when it is your life that is on the line.