Distracted driving: a deadly practice on Nevada roadways

Distracted driving is a dangerous – and possibly deadly – practice in Nevada and across the country.

Ad campaigns focused at stopping distracted driving have been issued by government agencies like the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and the Nevada Department of Transportation as well as cellphone companies like AT&T and Verizon. These have a singular goal: educate the public about the myriad dangers (namely the increased risk of auto accidents) associated with driving while distracted.

In spite of these efforts – and a Nevada state law enacted in 2012 that makes it a primary offense for all drivers in the state to use a handheld electronic device (like a phone, GPS system, tablet or music player) or send/read text messages while driving – distracted driving continues to plague our roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in 2012 alone, there were more than 3,300 people killed in distraction-related crashes across the country, and an additional 421,000 were injured.

Surprising facts

Given that distracted driving has been such a hot social issue in the past few years, many people forget the fact that it has actually been ongoing for decades. The manner of distraction has evolved, but the practice itself is as old as the automobile. There are a number of “low-tech” distractions that can prove just as hazardous when done behind the wheel, including:

  • Eating
  • Drinking from a bottle, can or cup without a straw
  • Reading a book, newspaper or map
  • Grooming (everything from styling hair and brushing teeth to putting on makeup and shaving)
  • Changing music selections
  • Engaging in heated conversation

Regardless of the type, the fact remains that any distraction can be deadly. Even so, text messaging gets the lion’s share of the distracted driving-related attention. This is for the simple reason that it involves all three major types of distraction: visual, physical and cognitive.

The types of distraction

Visual distraction involves the driver taking his or her eyes off the road. At highway speeds, it only takes a few seconds for a car to travel the length of a football field. If the driver isn’t looking at the road during that time, he or she could easily crash into other vehicles, obstructions, permanent structures, pedestrians or cyclists.

Manual distraction involves the driver taking his or her hands off the wheel. Without a firm grip on the steering wheel, a driver will lose precious seconds when faced with a sudden hazard like a stopped car or roadway debris. On the highway, those few seconds can make a huge difference.

The third type of distraction is cognitive. This involves the driver’s brain being focused on something other than driving. Contrary to popular belief, our brains aren’t really hard-wired to multi-task. Driving is an all-consuming activity that involves constant diligence and correction to account for speed fluctuations, road surface conditions, weather, traffic volume and more. When we take even a bit of our focus off driving in order to read a text message and compose a response, we greatly increase the chance that an accident will occur; this is why even hands-free text messaging can still result in crashes.

Getting the help you need

If you have been seriously injured – or you have tragically lost a loved one – in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you should focus your energy and attention on recovery. An experienced Nevada personal injury attorney can handle the legal issues involved in determining liability for the accident so that you can concentrate on healing.

Keywords: distracted driving, auto accident, car accident, wreck, crash, collision, truck accident, motor vehicle accident