The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Palm Desert

Drivers face many hazards on the road, some of which are entirely preventable. Distracted driving is one such hazard. Anyone on the road must understand the dangers of distracted driving in Palm Desert. Distracted driving can take many forms, all of which are incredibly dangerous for both the distracted driver and everyone around them.

What Are the Four Types of Distractions While Driving?

Driving requires full attention and physical control of the vehicle. Distracted driving typically manifests in four ways:

  • Visual distraction entails a driver looking away from the road. This may be due to looking at something on the side of the road, making eye contact while talking to a passenger, looking at the vehicle’s cockpit display and controls, or anything else that takes the driver’s eyes off of the road.
  • Auditory distractions cause a driver to stop listening for important vehicle sounds and sounds from their surroundings. For example, driving with the stereo blaring could make it difficult for a driver to hear an approaching ambulance and prevent them from taking appropriate action.
  • Cognitive distractions take the driver’s attention away from the road. They may have their eyes forward, but their mind is elsewhere. It is not uncommon for some drivers to feel as though they go into an “autopilot” mode when driving everyday routes, such as between home and work every day. However, cognitive distraction can make it difficult for a driver to adjust for a sudden change in front of them that “snaps” them out of their thoughts.
  • Manual distractions take a driver’s hands away from the vehicle controls. Common manual distractions include eating, using cell phones, and adjusting cockpit controls while in motion.

Any of these distractions have the potential to cause a serious accident, even for a second or two. Cell phone use is especially dangerous because it inherently entails multiple forms of distraction. For example, if a driver tries to text behind the wheel, they are using their hands to operate the phone while looking at the screen. They are focused on the text conversation, not the road. In other words, using a cell phone to text behind the wheel is a manual, cognitive, and visual distraction all at once.

Is Drinking Coffee While Driving Considered Distracted Driving?

The short answer to this question is yes, attempting to drink a cup of coffee behind the wheel can be a very dangerous distraction. While it may be perfectly reasonable to keep a cup of coffee in your vehicle’s cupholder for sips while stopped at red lights, it is generally best to refrain from eating or drinking while driving entirely.

Can You Use Your Phone on Speaker While Driving in California?

California takes distracted driving very seriously. Due to the massive uptick in vehicle collisions following the advent of cell phones, state lawmakers enacted new policies aimed to restrict phone use behind the wheel. However, lawmakers acknowledge that sometimes it is necessary to speak on the phone while driving. There are various guidelines in effect in California that allow the use of hands-free devices on the road.

If you intend to use your phone at all while driving in California, review these regulations to ensure you have the proper equipment in your vehicle to use your phone safely and legally. If you use your cell phone improperly while driving in California and a police officer notices, you could face an expensive fine and points on your driving record. You also increase your risk of causing a distracted driving accident by using a phone improperly while driving.

What Is the Number One Cause of Distracted Driving?

Motor vehicle collisions continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental injuries and deaths in the United States each year, and distracted driving has steadily become one of the leading causes of severe accidents. Cell phone use, in particular, is so hazardous while driving that California and many other states now uphold strict laws for cell phone use in vehicles.

Why Is Distracted Driving a Problem?

Distracted driving is dangerous because of the sheer volume of drivers on the road and the ease with which many of them fall into complacency while driving. In most cases, distracted driving accidents result from variables that appear suddenly, but drivers do not have adequate time or ability to respond appropriately due to their distraction. For example, a driver traveling at night may avoid a deer crossing the road if they pay close attention to the road ahead and slow down in time, whereas a driver looking at their phone likely wouldn’t notice in time to avoid a crash.

When drivers cause accidents with other drivers due to distraction, victims can experience a host of damages, including painful injuries that require months or even years to heal, lost income, and property losses from vehicle damage. Distracted driving can easily cause devastating losses for another driver, and the distracted driver will be liable for them.

Recovering from a Distracted Driving Accident

If you or a loved one sustained injuries and economic losses due to a distracted driver’s negligent actions in Palm Desert, it’s crucial to know your legal options. The first step toward recovery in most car accidents is to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy, but this may not be enough to cover the full scope of the victim’s losses. An experienced Palm Desert personal injury attorney can help a victim in this situation determine options for legal recourse beyond what insurance can provide, such as a civil claim against the distracted driver responsible for the accident.

A distracted driver is liable for any and all damages they cause to others due to their failure to pay attention to the road. California law requires all drivers to operate their vehicles safely and with consideration for others at all times, and failure to do so can lead to liability for significant damages. If you need assistance determining the full range of your damages after a distracted driving accident or simply need legal advice after a distracted driver caused injuries and economic losses, contact the Law Offices of Susan Handel.