Texting while driving, or simply talking on your cell phone, are not the only types of distractions that put people at risk when driving. If you are involved in an auto accident, you may not see the other driver with that cell phone in his hand. You may have noticed a cheeseburger, instead. This would be an important detail to recall, as well, if you look to recover damages for your injuries. Many people do not consider eating a form of distracted driving, because most of us do it. But the truth is, eating is a distraction, too.
What is “distracted driving?”
The legal definition of “distracted driving” is “[a]ny activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving.” There are actually three categories of activities that result in distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive.
Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes off the road, whereas manual distractions result when you take your hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions are probably the hardest to avoid. As humans, distractions are inevitable and cannot be avoided altogether. But, eating while driving, results in all three categories of distracted driving; visual, manual and cognitive.
Why eating is such a serious driving distraction
Most of us automatically think of cell phones and other electronics, whenever the term “distracted driving” is used. It is unlikely that we think of what is probably the oldest and most common form of distracted driving – eating. When you are trying to eat that hamburger, you take your eyes off the road to look down at it, you take one hand off the steering wheel to hold it, and your attention is definitely distracted, at least in part, from driving.
Eating while driving is also a very serious problem, generally speaking, because it happens so frequently. How frequent? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says nearly half of all drivers eat or drink while driving. Yet, only 17% of us consider eating while driving to be dangerous.
How big of a problem is distracted driving?
According to statistics published by the federal government, 3,154 people were killed, and more than 400,000 injured, in 2013 in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Twenty-year-olds have the largest proportion of drivers who are reportedly distracted, 10% of whom are involved in fatal crashes with a distracted driver.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to recover damages for those injuries. If you can prove that the driver was negligent or distracted at the time the accident occurred, you will likely have a good case. If you noticed that the driver was eating or engaging in any other distracted driving behavior, such as texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup, etc., those particular details are extremely important, and should be disclosed to your personal injury attorney.
If you have questions regarding distracted driving, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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