Distracted driving can easily turn into disaster when simply sending “a quick text message.” In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) defines distracted driving as any 2-second interval where your eyes are not on the road in front of you. It goes on to warn that, at 55 mph, a 5-second interval with your eyes off the road is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed, and that “texting is the most alarming distraction.”
In 2019, distracted driving killed 3,142 people across the United States. That's about eight people per day. Knowing the facts about distracted driving and how to encourage your loved ones to keep their full attention on the road can save countless lives.
Read more about the dangers of distracted driving to help keep Wisconsin’s roads safe and prevent avoidable deaths.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes away your full attention from being on the road.
The three kinds of distracted driving are:
Visual. Visual distracted driving occurs when drivers take their eyes off the road.
Manual. Manual distracted driving occurs when drivers take their hands off the wheel for any reason.
Cognitive. Cognitive distracted driving occurs when drivers take their minds off the task (driving) at hand.
Some examples of distracted driving include texting or talking on the phone, eating or drinking, applying makeup, adjusting the radio or your navigation system, handing a toy or food to your kids and even rubbernecking at the neighbor’s new outdoor décor. Out of the different examples of distracted driving, texting is the most dangerous, with people taking their eyes (and minds) off the road for an average of 5 seconds to send a text message.
Remember that if you’re doing anything other than driving, you are increasing your risk of crashing, as well as your risk of causing harm to someone else.
How to encourage others not to drive distracted
There are specific ways different groups of people can aid in encouraging others around them not to drive distracted.
For example, teens can encourage their friends not to participate in distracted driving. If you’re in the car with your friend and they start to eat or drink while they’re driving, suggest taking a lunch stop to sit down to eat instead, or take turns driving and eating.
Parents play an important role in encouraging their kids not to drive distracted by the example they set. Parents should try to avoid distracted driving at all times, especially with kids in the car. Parents can have discussions with their teens about the dangers of distracted driving and how to drive responsibly. Taking a moment to make your vehicle distraction-free before you begin driving by putting your phone on do not disturb and getting your GPS set up before you leave the driveway shows your kids you are serious about safe driving.
Educators and employers can also help by spreading the word about the dangers of distracted driving and encouraging students and employees to drive safely. Whether it’s hanging posters in the hallways or simply having a discussion, educators can play a large role in the way their students view distracted driving.
Some schools and districts are hosting educational events that reenact a “real” accident situation and share tips to avoid a similar situation. If you’re an educator, helping to bring these kinds of lessons to your school can be impactful.
Distracted driving isn’t just for teens. In Wisconsin, 72% of distracted driving crashes in 2020 involved someone 25-years-old or older. It’s easy to take a “I’ll just send a quick message just this once” or “it’s just a few fries, I’m OK to drive and eat” approach when you’re short on time, but remember that each letter you type and bite you eat could mean the difference between hurting yourself or someone else in a car accident.
What are the laws?
Distracted driving laws differ by state, so make sure to check the laws for your specific state.
In Wisconsin, it’s illegal:
To use a hand-held device while driving in construction work zones.
For school bus drivers and novice drivers with a learner’s permit or intermediate license to use cell phones for any purpose.
For all drivers to text while driving. Along with Wisconsin, 48 other states also have this law in place.
How to avoid distracted driving
For your safety and the safety of others, it is critical that you avoid distracted driving. Here are some tips for avoiding some of the most common reasons people drive distracted:
If you must send a text, check an email or read an article, pull over to a safe location before you begin the activity.
Use your passengers to help you. For example, if you have passengers and need to send a text, appoint a “designated texter” to text for you while you’re driving. If you have passengers, have them assist with navigation so you don’t need to take your hands off the wheel.
If you’re easily tempted to look at your phone, put your phone in the back seat of the car or somewhere that you can’t reach it while you’re driving.
Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous to you, your passengers, pedestrians and others on the roads. While it’s not the only form of distracted driving, texting while driving especially needs to be avoided, as it involves all three kinds of distracted driving and is the most dangerous. You can do your part by avoiding distracted driving and continuing to spread the word to encourage others not to participate in distracted driving.
Involved in a distracted driving accident?
If you or a loved one have been involved in a distracted driving accident, Di Renzo & Bomier offers a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. Call (920) 725-8464 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.
We represent accident victims from Neenah, Appleton, Green Bay and across Northeast Wisconsin.
The content of this blog was prepared by Law Offices of Di Renzo & Bomier, LLC for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Offices of Di Renzo & Bomier, LLC.