When a motorist does not give their driving 100% mental and visual focus, the person is a distracted driver. Looking at the scenery or a traffic accident, daydreaming, eating, or grooming are just a few of the many diversions that engage drivers. A more recent phenomenon is multitasking driving with cell phone use. Most people are aware that it’s considered a distraction, but believe it isn’t a big deal or that it doesn’t affect their driving. Unfortunately, it’s a form of impairment that’s as debilitating as drunk driving. Distractions affect drivers in two profound ways:
A Lack of Road Environment Awareness
Distraction reduces the driver’s awareness, either visually or mentally, of the events taking place on the road. Cell phone use can cause inattention blindness where a driver with perfectly good vision fails to see cars and objects on the road. Accidents are more likely to occur at intersections, which involve traffic coming and going in multiple directions. Safely negotiating such a complex situation demands an alert and focused mind. The distracted multitasker may be able to avoid collisions with cars and trucks, but often will fail to see pedestrians and motorcyclists.
An Inability to Drive Defensively
Defensive driving requires an engaged mind that actively anticipates possible accidents before they happen. The defensive driver will notice the distracted pedestrian about to step off the curb and into the road in front of her. The sight of playing children next to the road will prompt the driver to slow down and be prepared to stop. Such a driver will notice the brake lights of traffic further down the road and will anticipate a sudden traffic slowdown.
The distracted driver will do none of these things and may even fail to react at the last second to these incidents.
Distraction Endangers the Most Vulnerable People
The distracted driver will often let their reflexes do their driving for them. This means they might tailgate in ways that endanger the vehicle in front as well as pedestrians on the side of the road. Tailgating not only reduces one’s time to react to emergencies, but also reduces one’s ability to see farther down the road. If the tailgater hugs the right side of the road, pedestrians and bicyclists are placed at risk. The danger is even more acute at night.
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are the most vulnerable people on the road. When these people become victims of the distracted driver, the consequences are often fatal, and their wrongful deaths devastating to their families.
If you lost a loved one because of driver distraction or other forms of negligence, contact the lawyers at Hogan Injury for an evaluation of your wrongful death case.