Driver Inattention and Distraction Explained
While technology has allowed Americans to stay more connected, it also has caused drivers to become increasingly distracted while driving. While some distractions are unavoidable, but there are many actions you can take to remain focused on the road to keep yourself and others safe.
What Is Driver Inattention And Distraction?
Driver inattention or distraction occurs when a driver engages in a secondary activity that interferes with the primary task of operating a vehicle. Drivers can be distracted in many ways by things inside or outside of the vehicle. Some of the top causes of driver inattention and motor vehicle accidents include:
- Speaking on the phone (including hands-free)
- Operating electronic devices, including the radio, mp3 players, GPS devices, and DVD, or CD players
- Children, pets and other passengers in the car
- Adjusting vehicle controls, such as the air conditioner, windshield wipers and lights
- Eating or drinking
- "Rubbernecking" at motor vehicle accidents or other emergency situations
- Other distractions outside the vehicle
There are three categories in which driver distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Physical: taking your hands off the steering wheel
- Cognitive: taking your attention away from the driving task. Cognitive distraction usually accompanies physical and visual distractions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Secondary task distractions are those that divert attention from the road and may include using a handheld device, applying makeup, or dealing with disruptive children or pets in the back seat.
- Driving-related inattention occurs when drivers engage in activities such as looking down at the speedometer, checking mirrors, glancing over to look for blind spots before changing lanes and parking.
- Non-specific driver inattention happens when a driver momentarily looks away from the road but at no particular object, person or activity.
- Drowsiness also can be considered inattention, as it involves closing your eyes, repeated yawning, and other related behaviors.
According to a report by the National Safety Council, vision is the most important factor for safe driving. The report states that drivers may see but not mentally register objects.
The council estimates indicate that when using cell phones, drivers look but fail to see or mentally process upwards of 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. This form of "inattention blindness" is similar to the concept of tunnel vision in that they are unable to process everything they see to 1) effectively be aware of their surroundings, and 2) identify and respond to potential hazards or unexpected situations.
Avoid Distracted Driving
Making the effort to pay attention at all times while driving saves lives. We have outlined the following tips to help you remain focused on the task at hand the next time you get in your car:
- Turn off your phone: If you do need to answer a call or text, pull off and stop at a safe place to do so.
- Familiarize yourself with your car’s features: Make sure you know how control windshield wipers, heat, and CD player/radio without taking your eyes off the road. If you are driving an unfamiliar vehicle, practice finding controls before you drive.
- Program devices in advance: If you use GPS, enter an address or location before you get on the road. Make sure audio turn-by-turn directions are on and easy to hear.
- Minimize stress: Do not engage in difficult or emotional conversations while driving.
- Minimize distractions: If you need to take care of something in the back seat, pull over. Don’t allow your pets or children to distract you while driving.
- Get sleep: Don’t drive if you’re feeling tired.
- Avoid eating while driving: Eat before you get in the car or stop at a safe location to eat.
Contact a Spring Hill Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by driver inattention, our Spring Hill personal injury attorney services can help. Our compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys will protect your rights and help to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact Lowman Law Firm in Spring Hill, FL at 352-796-0016 or toll free at 866-9-LOWMAN.