In California, when the phrase “distracted driving” is mentioned, people will automatically think about cellphones and people using them behind the wheel. This includes texting, emailing, surfing the web, making calls and performing any of the other seemingly endless functions these devices allow. However, people can be distracted by many other factors beyond a device. Researchers examining this phenomenon formulated a list of behaviors people take part in when driving. Any can cause motor vehicle accidents with injuries and fatalities.
The Zebra, a website dedicated to insurance comparison, says drivers are frequently distracted. Almost two out of three people who replied in a survey stated they were distracted by factors unrelated to cellphone use. These include the following: removing clothing (25%); using products like makeup and hygiene products (one out of seven); sexual behaviors (15%); and physically hitting a passenger while operating the vehicle (more than 12%). Still, the two most common distracting behaviors – reading on the phone or texting – were at 58% and 56% respectively. This research does not downplay the danger of cellphone distractions, but points out there are other ways for drivers to turn their attention away from the road.
Drivers also explained their cellphone use with thin justifications. For example, almost 82% said it was acceptable if they had a hands-free device or the phone was on speaker. At least 64% believed it was fine if they used it to navigate. The drudgery of driving was referenced by 23%. Thirty percent said they text, but still watch the road. Males and females engaged in distracting behaviors equally at approximately 35% each. Those with a college degree came in at 36%; those who did not have a college degree were at 31%. Urban and rural motorists were at 35%. Only a quarter of baby boomers admitted to driving distracted. Those in Generation Z – people 18 to 23 – registered 38%.
Along with drunk driving, drowsy driving and recklessness, distracted driving is one of the most dangerous behaviors drivers can indulge in and often causes a collision. It has become so commonplace that law enforcement and legislators are trying to find solutions to directly address it and make the roads less treacherous. After a crash, there may be medical costs from hospitalizations, lost time at work and challenges with making a full recovery. A legal filing might be the only way to investigate the case and recover sufficient compensation. Consulting with a firm experienced in motor vehicle accidents may help.