If you do not text and drive, you may assume that distracted driving isn’t a problem for you. But distracted driving has existed long before the invention of the cell phone.
You also may not realize that some of the tasks that you are completing on your cell phone are also illegal. Here, we will go through a few things you may not know about distracted driving.
Types of Distracted Driving
Every day, there are more than nine people killed because of distracted driving. Another over 1,000 people are injured because of distracted driving.
Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. It can be something simple like checking on the kids in the backseat or adjusting your music.
There are three categories of distracted driving:
- Visual: You have taken your eyes off of the road.
- Looking at a map or navigation system
- Looking at pets or children
- Manual: You have taken your hands off the wheel
- Reaching down to get something
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting the radio or navigation system
- Cognitive: You have taken your mind off of driving.
- Daydreaming or “spacing out”
- Deep conversations with passengers or on the phone
- Drowsiness or falling asleep
In many cases of distracted driving, you are doing all three of these things, especially in cases where the driver is texting, checking e-mail, or looking at social media.
Distracted driving can significantly increase the likelihood of an accident. In 2011, for example, almost 1 in 5 crashes where someone was injured were due to distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Risk Factors
Age. Younger drivers are at an increased risk to be involved in an accident where distracted driving is involved, even if they are not driving. Younger drivers (under 20) have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatalities.
It is important to avoid providing a bad example for future drivers and to encourage young drivers to put their cell phone away while they are driving.
Drinking and Driving. You should never drink and drive. Being drunk while driving has its own very serious risk factors, but those who have been drinking are also more likely to use their cell phone while they are driving.
Drinking clouds judgement, and drunk drivers occasionally feel invincible, causing them to engage in other types of risky behavior.
Passengers. Passengers in the vehicle may also increase the likelihood of a distracted driving accident. Passengers may encourage you to look at photos, videos, or texts while driving; they think it is okay as long as they are holding the phone. This visual distraction is still very dangerous.
Children and pets should be restrained in the vehicle for safety and to avoid their movement being a distraction to the driver. Pets and children will, for example, occasionally climb on the driver and cause the driver to lose control.
Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving
You may strictly adhere to Florida’s state-wide ban on texting while driving, and good for you! What you may not realize, however, is that Florida’s law extends to more than just texting. The law states:
“A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”
The law obviously extends to checking your e-mail and chatting. However, the law likely also extends to checking Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn or building your electronic to-do list.
It could even extend to using GPS services while driving, specifically typing in addresses or business information. If you have streaming music, adjusting stations or looking for artist could also be including in this law.