Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | December 26, 2017
Distracted drivers are a major cause of accidents. According to the Governors Highway Association, in 2016 distracted driving was a factor in accidents that killed 3,450 people, constituting more than nine percent of all traffic fatalities that year. Thousands more are injured every year in distracted driving accidents. The GHSA contends that cell phone use and texting are two of the most common distractions.
However, while cell phones and texting are among the leading causes of driver distraction, they are by no means the only sources of distraction. Federal statistics show that distracted driving can include any activity that takes attention away from driving your vehicle, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, changing stations on your radio, or changing settings on your stereo, entertainment, or navigation system.
What types of distractions make driving even more dangerous? According to the federal government, the three main types of distraction are:
- Visual: Something that takes your eyes off the road
- Manual: Any activity, such as eating, that takes your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: Anything that takes your attention away from driving, including daydreaming, or focusing your attention on anything other than driving.
Cell phone use gets the most attention as a cause of distracted driving, and Georgia law addresses the issue:
- Drivers younger than 18 may not use cell phones when driving.
- School bus drivers are not allowed to use cell phones while loading or unloading passengers, or while the bus is in motion.
- Texting while behind the wheel is prohibited for all drivers.
Hands-Free Systems Are Still Distractions
Research by The National Safety Council indicates that the speed at which the brain processes images declines by as much as a third when a person talks on a cell phone. Furthermore, even drivers who use hands-free cell phones can miss seeing as much as half of what happens on the road. Other research supports the possibility that talking on a hands-free phone is just as distracting as using a hand-held phone.
A study by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety tested the hands-free systems of most major car makers and all were more distracting than using a cell phone. Levels of mental distraction lasted as long as 27 seconds after using hands-free systems to complete distracting tasks. AAA researchers ranked distractions on a five-point scale, with one a mild distraction and five a severe one, and considered a rating of two or more potentially dangerous. The AAA study ranked using a cell phone at level two. All hands-free systems that AAA tested scored higher than two.
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