Operating a motor vehicle requires you to pay attention at all times. Otherwise, accidents can happen. Unfortunately, even the safest drivers are involved in crashes, and quite often, it is the other driver’s fault. Distracted driving is one of Arizona’s leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. There are four basic types of distracted driving: manual, visual, cognitive and auditory.
1. Manual Types of Distracted Driving
Manual distractions are things that cause you to stop holding the steering wheel. This includes reaching for, holding or adjusting something.
Eating or Drinking
Eating and drinking can be both manual and visual distractions. You have one hand off the wheel and may take your eyes off the road when reaching for your food or drink. Depending on what you are eating, you might also have to try to unwrap or continuously hold your food. Your eyes can leave the road when you try to get the last drop from your beverage. If you spill your food or drink, it will cause an additional distraction.
Getting your cigarette out of the package and lighting it is a manual and visual distraction. One hand is off the wheel as you reach for your lighter and pack of cigarettes. While smoking, you are constantly holding your cigarette. If hot ash drops, the distraction will increase tremendously.
Applying Makeup or Grooming
How many times in Phoenix rush-hour traffic have you seen someone putting on their makeup or fixing their hair? Even if you are stopped at a light, these types of distracted driving can keep you from seeing nearby hazards or when the light turns green. Avoid plucking your eyebrows or shaving while you are driving!
Adjusting Vehicle Controls
Another manual distraction is adjusting something in your vehicle. It might be the radio or the temperature controls. Using your GPS while driving can also be dangerous, as you have to remove a hand from the steering wheel and take your eyes off the road.
2. Visual Types of Distracted Driving
You are visually distracted when you look at anything other than the road in front of you. This can be something inside or outside your vehicle. In addition to the manual distractions explained above, other visual distractions could occur, resulting in unsafe driving conditions.
Looking at the Scenery
Given the beautiful scenery in Arizona, it is no surprise that people want to look out the window while driving. Whether you are in heavy traffic or driving up the winding road on South Mountain to watch the sunset from Dobbins Lookout, it is essential to keep your eyes on the road in front of you and check in your mirror for vehicles behind you. On less busy streets, if you are not watching the road, an animal might run out in front of you or your front tires could get off into the gravel.
Checking Out an Accident
When an accident occurs on the side of the road, it is human nature to want to know what is happening. This can cause additional problems with people turning their heads to see better. This is one of the types of distracted driving that can be easily avoided.
While it is vital to pay attention to pedestrians and what they are doing, an accident could happen if you look at them for long periods. Be mindful of your surroundings, but keep your eyes on the road first and foremost.
3. Cognitive Types of Distracted Driving
This type of distracted driving is when you are not paying attention. Something or someone is taking your mind off driving. Many things fall under this category.
Texting on your phone while driving is a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents. Any use of electronics behind the wheel can be considered manual, visual and cognitive distractions.
When you talk on the phone or with a passenger, your mind is fixed on something other than the road. In 2021, a law took effect in Arizona that makes it illegal to talk on your phone while driving if you are holding the phone with any part of your body, whether it is resting on your shoulder or holding it in your hand. Though using a hands-free device to talk on your phone is not against the law, it is still not a good idea, as it takes your mind off driving.
Getting Lost in Thought
Whether you are daydreaming or having a bad day, if you are emotional in any way, your mind is not entirely on driving. It takes high concentration to operate a motor vehicle, and if you are thinking of other things, this is one of the types of distracted driving.
Interference in Vehicle
Another passenger, a pet, children fighting or a baby crying in the back seat can all be sources of interference inside your vehicle. Rather than driving while dealing with a stressful situation, it is best to pull off the road and take care of the matter.
Being Under the Influence
Anything that makes it so you cannot concentrate on driving is unsafe, particularly driving while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. Drinking or doing drugs and driving is not a safe combination. Stay off the road, and let someone else drive if you need to go somewhere. Fatigue can also be a culprit. Pull over and rest if you feel like you are falling asleep at the wheel.
4. Auditory Types of Distracted Driving
Any sound that takes your focus away from driving is considered an auditory distraction. This includes phone calls, people in your car talking, or children laughing or crying. Another common auditory distraction is listening to the radio, especially if it is loud. If you cannot hear a car horn honk or an emergency vehicle siren, turn down or, better yet, turn off the radio.
Dealing With Accidents Caused by Types of Distracted Driving
Even if you avoid distractions on the road, other drivers may not be so careful. Contact MDK Law Group for a free consultation if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident with another driver experiencing any of these types of distracted driving. There is no cost to you unless you receive compensation.