Any activity, no matter how minor, that pulls a driver’s focus from the road is considered a distraction. Personal grooming, eating, drinking or participating in a conversation can all lead to lapses in concentration that ultimately result in collisions. From drifting into a lane of oncoming traffic to failing to recognize slowed cars ahead, driving negligence can lead to disaster.
Distracting activities commonly fall into three categories: visual distractions, manual distractions and cognitive distractions. While most activities fall into one category, some of the more dangerous habits overlap. Manual texting, for example, requires the driver to have a hand off the steering wheel, eyes off the road and mind focused on the conversation rather than his or her surroundings. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission reports that 25% of all vehicle collisions involve a driver who was using a cell phone.
Additionally, dining and driving is a common yet deadly activity. It is not uncommon for drivers to attempt to save time or multitask while behind the wheel. From eating breakfast on the way to school in the morning to eating dinner on the drive home after a long shift at work, drivers have become accustomed to snacking. The activity is so commonplace that drivers tend not to recognize the dangers of eating while attempting to safely operate the motor vehicle.
What steps have been taken?
New Jersey lawmakers have taken steps to curb distracted driving and stem the tide of fatal collisions. Cell phone use, identified as a significant cause of serious accidents, is generally illegal while behind the wheel unless in handsfree mode. Even then, laws are clear that the position of the cell phone cannot impede the driver’s vision of his or her surroundings. In general, the only exceptions center around the driver needing to report an emergency or contact emergency services if the driver fears for their life.
Unfortunately, even with laws in place, distracted driving collisions continue to occur. If you were injured in a crash caused by a negligent driver, it is crucial that you discuss your situation with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.