Causes and Effects of Distracted Driving

The Dangers of Not Focusing While Driving

A man texting and driving
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Driving requires a lot of focus and full attention. Distracted driving affects all drivers from time to time but can come with stiff consequences. Unfocused or distracted driving does not affect all drivers the same. Some frequently and to greater magnitudes pay less attention to the road, increasing their risk for disaster. However, it is important to note that it takes one time and perhaps the smallest of distractions to cause an accident. Acknowledging that even minor distractions can affect your ability to drive and cause disastrous consequences could prevent a serious accident.

Causes of Distracted Driving

Any task that takes your attention away from the road is a distraction. These include crying or fighting kids in the back seat, talking on the phone, applying cosmetics, eating lunch, and much more. Unfortunately, it is common for people to multitask while driving. However, any distraction (e.g., eating with one hand and driving with another, looking away to grab a fallen object, spilling a beverage, etc.) which causes you to not devote full attention to driving can cause accidents.

Examples of Driving Distractions

  • Adjusting the radio
  • Active kids
  • Eating
  • Cellphones: talking and texting
  • Driving under the influence
  • Inputting directions into a GPS

The list of examples could seemingly go on forever. Some people even take it as far as shaving or applying makeup while driving. While it is impossible to outlaw all distracted driving, many states have created laws against the biggest offenders, such as cellphone usage, texting, and driving under the influence.

Consequences of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can be extremely dangerous and result in horrific accidents. The severity can range from minor vehicle damage to a totaled car and devastating injuries; increasingly, it results in fatalities. Each state has its own set of laws when it comes to distracted driving. It is important to verify what the penalties are in your state or any state you plan to visit.

Cellphone Usage: Banning cellphone usage is a law that has come about because of the high level of distraction from the devices and the number of people using them. Some states ban all usage while others ban only texting. As of November 2018, 47 states; Washington, D.C.; Guam; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban texting and driving. Many experts compare using a cellphone while driving to drinking and driving due to the high level of distraction and the amount of time the driver's eyes are off the road.

If you are caught using a cellphone in a way that is banned, you could be pulled over and ticketed by a police officer. Fines vary and insurance carriers will likely address the violation by adding a surcharge to your car insurance policy at your next policy renewal.

Driving While Under the Influence: The use of mind-altering substances, such as alcohol, illicit drugs, and even prescription medication, is a form of distracted driving. These substances make it difficult to focus your attention on the road, and even worse, alcohol makes you lose your inhibition. Drunk driving laws are severe in most states; they typically include large fines, driver's license suspensions, and possibly jail time.

Car insurance will also be expensive and difficult to obtain once cited for driving under the influence. Your current car insurance carrier could potentially non-renew your car insurance policy. Car insurance carriers will classify you as a high-risk driver and charge much higher rates. It often takes five years (10 for CA) to get back into good driver standings once a DUI is on your driving record.

People frequently drive distracted without any consequences. It seems to be a part of our everyday lives. It is the lack of awareness and the commonality of it which makes it so dangerous. Most people think that nothing will ever happen to them until, one day, it does. It only takes a split second of distraction to create a lifetime of pain and suffering. Remember, driving is a privilege and your decisions do not only affect you but other people on the road too.