12/18/13 12:29PM Cell Phones, Driving and Talking, Texting

Mobile Phones Aren't the Only Source of Distracted Driving

Driving while talking on the phone

Distracted driving is a topic on many minds these days, and it usually refers to cell phone use, texting or using social media while driving. In fact, mobile phones aren't the only source of distracted driving. This National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study shows the effects of these non-phone distractions.

Internal Distractions

There are causes of distracted driving within the car other than mobile phones. These sources are call internal distractions and include tasks such as conversing with a passenger, eating or drinking, smoking, adjusting radio/CD player, applying makeup, even retrieving objects from floor/seat and even shaving.

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions are non-driving cognitive activities – thinking of things other than driving. These include “spacing out,” thinking of personal problems, family problems, future events such as a vacation or wedding, financial problems or an argument.

Roadway Related Distractions

Roadway-related distractions include congested traffic, construction zones, emergency vehicle approaching, disabled vehicle/object in roadway, and previous crash nearby.

Multi-Tasking is Not Harmless

It seems as though the world is turning faster than ever before, and we're forced to accomplish more in shorter periods of time. Multi-tasking, constant electronic contact (like calls, texts, emails and social media) and an increased need for instant gratification have us all combining tasks like never before. Unfortunately, that need for constant contact and desire to do more and more with our time has breached into dangerous territory.

Nearly 10 people are killed by auto accidents involving distracted driving every day (3,328 deaths in 2012). Another 421,000 were injured in 2012. These accidents and deaths are preventable. All it takes is the commitment to put aside all distractions and focus on your responsibility to protect yourself and those around you while you're driving.

Distracted Driving Laws

Most states have laws about cell phone usage, handheld or hands-free mobile devices, social media and texting, with some special regulations for bus drivers or in school zones. Few states, however, have other laws regarding distracted driving.

Connecticut has a law against distracted driving, prohibiting drivers from “engaging in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicles in a manner that interferes with the vehicle's safe operation.”

The District of Columbia has a law against “inattentive driving while operating a motor vehicle.”

Troy, Michigan has a law against drivers are prohibited from engaging in any activity that diverts their attention.

In Maine, distracted drivers are guilty of “failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle.”

New Hampshire's law finds anyone who “drives a vehicle negligently, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of a violation.”

Oklahoma's law is a bit les specific, but the enforcement is more specific. “The operator of every vehicle, while driving, shall devote their full time and attention to such driving. No law enforcement officer shall issue a citation under this section unless the law enforcement officer observes that the operator of the vehicle is involved in an accident or observes the operator of the vehicle driving in such a manner that poses an articulable danger to other persons on the roadway that is not otherwise specified in statute.” (47-11-901b)

Utah has a law against careless driving. If a person commits a moving violation other than speeding while engaged in distracting activities, that driver can be charged.