Distracted driving is more than just texting and driving

Distracted driving is a common issue that plagues the roadways in California and throughout the rest of the country. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in a survey, 70 percent of Californians reported that they had almost been hit by a driver who was texting and driving or talking on his or her cellphone in 2013. Additionally, in the same survey, nearly half of the participants said that they thought texting and driving was the most dangerous form of distraction for drivers.

The three types of distraction

While texting and driving is an extremely risky activity, it is not the only form of distraction that threatens the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver's full attention away from driving. They define three different types of driver distraction and these include the following:

  • Manual — drivers become manually distracted when they take their hands off of the steering wheel. For example, a driver who reaches for a cellphone on the seat next to him or her is manually distracted.
  • Cognitive — drivers who no longer have their minds on driving are cognitively distracted. For instance, a driver who intently focuses on the tasks he or she has to complete at the office while driving to work is cognitively distracted.
  • Visual — drivers who no longer have their eyes on the road in front of them are visually distracted. For instance, a driver who looks at his or her GPS for directions is distracted visually.

The CDC states that any form of distracted driving can elevate a driver's chances of causing an injurious or fatal auto accident.

Hands-free systems aren't the solution

A study conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety in 2013 revealed that approximately 70 percent of Californians believe that using a hands-free device is a safer alternative than a handheld device. However, according to Fox News, two new studies indicate that these infotainment systems could actually be making the distracted driving problem worse.

The University of Utah and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied the effects of hands-free apps and in-car infotainment systems on driver distraction levels. In one of these studies, the infotainment systems included in some of the most common auto manufacturer brands were rated on a distraction scale of one to five, with five being the most distracting and one representing no distraction. The systems that received the highest distraction ratings on this scale were the ones that made mistakes. For instance, during one of the tests, a driver requested to call a certain phone number and the device called 911 instead.

Accidents still occur

Although there is a handheld ban on cellphones for drivers in California, many are still injured and killed in distracted driving accidents regularly. Those who incur injuries in an accident caused by a distracted driver often suffer from severe emotional, financial and physical effects. If you were involved in an injurious accident, consult with an attorney about how to protect your rights to proper compensation.