Distracted driving is defined as performing any task other than driving while behind the wheel. Drivers today have more opportunities for distraction than ever. Talking on the phone, texting, changing the radio station, applying make up, eating, trying to find something inside the vehicle, or even trying to enter an address in a GPS can cause a driver to become distracted.
Types of Distractions
Driving distractions are divided into three categories: visual, cognitive and manual. Visual distractions include electronic devices, maps or anything that takes the driver’s eyes off of the road. Cognitive distractions include being unfocused while driving, being preoccupied or even getting distracted by listening to the radio. Manual distractions include eating, drinking or trying to find something in the backseat or elsewhere in the vehicle.
All of these distractions are acts of negligence if they result in an accident that hurts or kills another driver or pedestrian.
Distracted Driving Legislation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted drivers cause a whopping 80% of automobile accidents. As a result, each state has laws concerning distracted driving, making it illegal to perform any function that would impair or inhibit a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely.
Specific laws—and the severity of a distracted driving charge—vary from state to state. In Idaho, distracted driving is a misdemeanor. Most other states punish the crime with fines, although jail time maybe a possibility for repeat offenders. In other states, distracted driving can be grounds for a charge of negligence or reckless driving.
It is important to note that if the distracted driver only injures himself as a result of the accident, it is likely that his insurance company will offer a smaller settlement than if her were injured by someone else’s negligence.