Most people spend a great deal of time in their car. In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, however, drivers sometimes perform tasks that interfere with safe driving. Distracted driving refers to driving while engaging in other activities which distract the driver’s attention. These may include text messaging, adjusting a GPS system, mobile web interactions, eating, drinking, and grooming. Distractions put the safety of the driver, passengers, people in other vehicles, and pedestrians at risk. Distracted driving has been increasing overall. However, the youngest drivers (age 14-19) and the oldest (age 60-plus) have shown the most increases in distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Is a Serious Concern
Safe driving requires the driver’s full attention. Nationwide, in 2017, 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. In Nebraska, approximately 10 percent of traffic crashes for 2015 were the result of distracted driving, and the number of drivers involved in distracted driving accidents has increased by almost 20 percent. Over the last ten years, in Nebraska has had more than 3,600 distracted driving crashes each year. According to statistics from October 2018, 4,699 Nebraska drivers were involved in distracted driving crashes.
Nebraska law prohibits the use of a handheld wireless device to read, write, or send communication while operating a motor vehicle. A driver in violation of this law can be fined $200 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, or $500 for subsequent offenses along with three points on his or her driver’s license.
What Does Distracted Driving Mean?
Distracted driving means that while you are driving the vehicle, your mind is somewhere else. You may be upset, angry, or simply absent-minded, but your full attention is not focused on your driving.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual. Electronic devices for the car, such as GPS devices or portable entertainment systems are common visual distractions, but the driver may also be visually distracted by dealing with a child or pet, or looking at anything other than the road.
- Manual. Common forms of manual distraction include eating or drinking in the car or trying to get something out of a wallet or briefcase. Anything that causes the driver to take one or both hands off the wheel is a manual distraction.
- Cognitive. Talking to a passenger, being preoccupied with personal or work concerns, or even listening to a podcast can take your mind off of driving.
Texting while driving is particularly dangerous. If you are texting while driving, you are distracted in all three ways. Experts remind drivers that sending or reading a text message means taking your eyes off the road for about five seconds. That’s long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 miles per hour. Despite the danger, 49 percent of adults have texted while driving at one point or another.
Apps That Help Prevent Distracted Driving
If you are in the habit of distracted driving or have a loved one whose inattention makes you nervous, you may need a little help to break the habit. There are many apps, some of which are free, to help drivers.
- TextLimit blocks automatic features on a phone when the phone is moving above a certain speed. Once the phone goes back under a set speed, TextLimit all the features resume their normal function.
- TrueMotion is free on both Android and iOS devices. It is unique because the app rates your driving skills. It shows if you have been driving while distracted.
- DriveScribe blocks incoming calls and texts when the car is moving above a predetermined speed. Also, it will let you know if you are driving too fast.
- Live2Txt blocks incoming texts, calls, and notifications while you are driving. If you receive a message, the app will respond to senders with a custom message.
- DriveSafe.ly DriveSafe.ly will read your incoming text messages and emails aloud as they come in so that drivers do not look at the phone while driving.
- TextBuster locks out all calls, messages, and internet features when the car is running (although it does not prevent incoming or outgoing calls on cellular networks. It is available from local retailers and Amazon.com.
- AT&T DriveMode is available for both iOS and Android. It can be programmed to start automatically when you are driving over 15 miles per hour and will block incoming phone calls or texting while you’re driving.
- Cell Control can disable only the driver’s phone so that other passengers are free to use their phones while you are driving. It will block certain predetermined actions, such as texting, playing games, accessing social media accounts, or taking selfies.
What Should You Do if You Were Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?
Every day about 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. To keep yourself and others safe, avoid the temptation to multitask while driving. But despite your best efforts, accidents happen every day.
Immediately following an accident, you should check for injuries. Remember that some injuries may not be obvious until much later. Then call 911 for help. Do your best to gather information about the accident, such as insurance information, identification, contact, and automobile information of the parties involved. You will also need to get the names and contact information of nearby witnesses. Note additional details, such as weather conditions, time and date, and locations of traffic lights, physical evidence or debris. Take photos of the scene, including damage to vehicles, debris, and any other physical evidence.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a distracted driving accident, you may face medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. You may suffer long-term injuries, or have a reduced quality of life. You need to speak as soon as possible with an experienced attorney who can investigate your case and protect your interests. At The Robert Pahlke Law Group, our skilled and compassionate Nebraska personal injury attorneys are here to help you deal with the consequences of your accident. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or at (308) 633-4444.