Cognitive Distractions and Drivers
September 25, 2019
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Every driver faces all kinds of distractions while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, in some cases these distractions can lead the driver to cause an accident. Distracted driving accidents can cause injuries that can last a lifetime and lead to severe disabilities. If a driver deliberately or negligently allows a distraction to take his or her attention off the road, leading to an accident, that driver may be found liable for compensation that is due to the individuals injured in the accident.
There are several kinds of distractions that drivers face when behind the wheel that are termed cognitive distractions. These types of distractions include electronic devices, infotainment systems, passengers, and maps and other written materials. These distractions are deemed cognitive because they require the use of the senses that drivers rely on behind the wheel – most frequently, sight and sound – and take up a driver’s attention that should be focused on the road. Of course, other factors may contribute to or even supersede cognitive distractions as the cause of a motor vehicle accident, but it is important to know what common cognitive distractions behind the wheel are, so that drivers can avoid them or minimize their disruption.
Drivers’ Experience and Familiarity
It is also important to note that many distractions behind the wheel occur when a driver becomes comfortable behind the wheel, which often happens after years of driving experience or familiarity with a particular route (like driving to work or school every day). When driving becomes routine, drivers may come to feel like they can multitask behind the wheel. However, no matter how experienced a driver is, splitting attention between the road and cognitive distractions impairs driving ability and increases the risk of an accident. Thus, no matter how long one has been driving, whether one is on a familiar route, or is simply driving down the street to the store, it is important to reduce the impact of cognitive distractions while behind the wheel.
Any kind of electronic device can provide a distraction while behind the wheel. The most common electronic devices used by drivers are cell phones and tablets, although drivers have also been caught using laptops and handheld gaming devices while driving. Even the mere presence of a cell phone in a vehicle can provide the opportunity for distraction, such as when the phone rings or gives off a notification chime. Drivers can easily take their attention off the road for a few seconds just to see who is calling or what the notification is. However, even taking attention off the road for a couple of seconds can cause an accident, especially when traveling at highway speed when the vehicle can travel the length of a football field in a few seconds. Finally, while some people believe that using hands-free devices for their cell phones makes them safe, studies show that a sizable number of drivers do not use hands-free devices correctly or in a safe manner. Even using a cell phone with a hands-free device means that your attention and mental energy are split between the road and your phone.
As car infotainment systems include more and more features, they provide greater opportunities for distraction. Even attempting to change the radio in modern vehicles can take a driver’s attention off the road for precious seconds. As with hands-free devices for cell phones, using voice command systems in vehicles to execute complex tasks can divert a driver’s attention and mental focus from the road.
Drivers get distracted when offering any kind of attention to other passengers in the vehicle. Children and pets usually pose the biggest distraction to drivers, who may end up taking their visual attention off the road in addition to their mental focus. Inexperienced drivers, such as teens, are more likely to be distracted by other occupants in the vehicle.
Maps and Written Documents
Finally, attempting to read maps or other written documents while driving often requires far too much attention, since it requires a driver to take both visual and mental focus off the road.
Contact a West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Motor Vehicle Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a motor vehicle accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. represent clients injured because of motor vehicle accidents in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Pompano Beach, and throughout Florida. Call (561) 533-0345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 813 Lucerne Ave., Lake Worth, FL 33460, as well as offices in Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.