You can’t control what other people on the road do. There are still many distracted motorists out there, so you should drive defensively and follow these tips:
If you see a motorist behaving erratically, such as swerving or changing speeds unpredictably, slow down and keep as far away from their vehicle as possible. They could be distracted or intoxicated, and staying back will allow you time to react if they suddenly stop or swerve in your direction.
If you’re a passenger in a car and notice the driver is playing with their phone or otherwise distracted, say something. Offer to reply to a text message or email for them if it’s something urgent, then hang onto their phone until the car is stopped. If they don’t want to give up their phone, suggest they pull over safely and then finish typing.
Maintain a safe following distance. Use the 3-second rule – find a fixed object like a road sign or tree and note when the vehicle in front of you passes it, then count the seconds until you do the same. If it’s at least three seconds, your following distance is adequate. However, you may want to widen your following distance even more in poor weather conditions, such as rain, ice, or snow, or poor visibility situations, like fog.
Keep up with car maintenance. Ensuring your brakes and tires are in good condition will help if it’s ever necessary to stop suddenly.
Following traffic laws and staying under the speed limit can also aid you in stopping sooner, even if another driver creates a road hazard.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving
As smartphone usage has become more common, so have distractions behind the wheel. This is one of the most prevalent causes of distracted driving accidents, not only because of the high usage of phones but also because of their effect on drivers. Using a phone slows reaction time even more than drinking and driving – drivers who text and drive are six times more likely to get in an accident than those who drink and drive. (Intoxicated driving is still very hazardous, and you should not drink and drive.)
The good news is that you can put your phone away and focus on your driving much faster than you can sober up after having a few drinks. If your phone distracts you when driving, don’t have it out where you can see it. Consider leaving your phone in a bag or the glove box and putting it on silent so the sound of notifications won’t distract you. If you use an app on your phone for spoken directions, put the phone somewhere you won’t be tempted to look at the map on the screen, and always set your course before you start driving.
Fiddling with the Car’s Controls
Changing the channel or volume on the radio, turning the AC or heat up or down, adjusting your seat, or making other changes inside your car can all provide distractions. Set aside time each day to do these things when you first get in the car, before you leave – then you can concentrate on your driving. Alternatively, if you have a front-seat passenger, you can ask them to make adjustments for you.
Talking to Passengers
Getting into a complex conversation while driving can also be distracting, even if it isn’t on your phone. Always keep your eyes on the road, not the person you’re talking to. If the conversation gets complicated or seems important, find a safe place to pull over and finish the discussion.
Eating and Drinking
Drivers can also become distracted by food and drinks, taking one hand off the wheel and sometimes looking away from the road. It’s better to leave your pickup order in the bag until you reach your destination so you can drive without distraction.
Moving Objects or Animals
It’s natural to turn your head and look if you see something whizzing by. Unfortunately, this can mean taking your eyes off the road, whether you mean to or not. Usually, these situations happen because of kids or pets in the car, but any loose object can become a projectile in some circumstances – such as when you have to brake unexpectedly due to a road hazard, for example.
Here are some tips to avoid movement distractions inside your car:
Animals should be in a carrier or wearing a pet seatbelt, not freely roaming the car. Not only does this simple step prevent distractions, but it also keeps your pet safer if you do get into an accident.
Small children should be secured in age-appropriate car seats, but this won’t stop them from throwing objects. If your child is in the habit of tossing toys or other objects and isn’t old enough to know better, you may want to keep these things out of the child’s reach during your trip.
Consider securing loose objects by putting them in a glove box or in your briefcase or purse. Bags tend to be heavier and less likely to become airborne if you have to hit the brakes.
Never store items on the dashboard or in the back window, as they can easily be thrown off these surfaces and cause injury.
Reaching for Items
This overlaps with some of the other distracted driving causes. Whether you’re reaching for a french fry or your phone, grabbing objects can pull your eyes off the road and steal your attention, too. Whatever you need, wait until you can stop safely to pick it up.
Some drivers get into accidents because they try to take their morning grooming routine in the car with them. They may be brushing or styling their hair, putting on makeup, plucking eyebrows, applying deodorant, etc. Unfortunately, these activities draw the motorist’s attention away from their driving, causing them to look in the mirror instead of at the road. Stay safe by grooming at home, or at least wait until you reach your destination and park before hastily fixing your hair.
Rubbernecking or Staring at Outside Distractions
Sometimes the problem isn’t getting distracted by things inside your car but by events outside of it. It’s surprisingly common for accidents to occur because a driver gets distracted by another accident scene nearby. Other distractions may include group activities or crowds on the side of the road, aggressive drivers, brightly lit or moving billboards, and more.
You should pay attention to accidents or any hazard on the road, and if you see an accident scene, slow down and proceed around it carefully – but don’t get distracted looking to see what happened. If you think someone might need help, pull your car over safely and call 911 to report the crash.
How Can the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm Help If You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver?
Distracted drivers can cause painful injuries that lead to expensive medical bills. If the other driver was at fault due to distracted driving or a simple mistake, they should be held responsible for your medical bills, car repairs, and other damages from the crash. Unfortunately, their insurance company may not make it easy for you to collect on a claim, or they may offer you far less than your claim is worth.
Attorney Ali Awad founded the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm to help people injured due to another driver’s negligence. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident or other personal injury situation, please contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation with a distracted driving accident lawyer. If we take your case, we’ll fight to get you the compensation you deserve, and we’ll even take the insurance company to court if necessary. Remember, never accept a settlement offer from an insurance carrier until you speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.
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Frequently Asked Questions
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To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.
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