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Driving Distracted – A Bad Combination, No Matter What the Distraction

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Sundry of Distracted Drivers

A recent photo gallery piece in the Houston Chronicle highlighted readers' accounts of distracted drivers in Houston. The descriptions are accompanied with a corresponding stock photo. Depictions range from the (sadly) unsurprising – for example, texting while driving and putting on makeup – to the somewhat incredible – like, a parrot behind the steering wheel and toenail painting while driving!

While last month was Distracted Driving Awareness Month, distracted driving is a nationwide, year-round problem that causes preventable auto accidents far too often.

Cell Phone Use and Texting while Driving

There are three different categories for driving distractions:

1. Manual – when a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel.

2. Visual – when a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road.

3. Cognitive – when a driver's mind wanders and does not focus on driving.All driving distractions, even tuning the radio, are potentially dangerous and may result in an accident.

However, texting or the use of a mobile phone while driving can prove deadly because a driver's manual, visual and cognitive attention are all diverted.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas vehicular accidents associated with distracted driving for 2013 totaled over an alarming 94,000. Driving and talking on a cell phone increases the likelihood of getting into an injury-related car crash by four times.

Texting and driving considerably slows a driver's reaction time down. Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute researched the topic and concluded that reaction time doubles when a driver's attention moves to text messaging. On average, a texting driver's eyes shift away from the roadway for 4.6 seconds – at 55 miles per hour, that is basically like driving blindfolded down the entire length of a football field!

Distracted Driving Laws

The current law in Texas as it pertains to the usage of mobile devices

:•     Bans all cell phone use for bus drivers (with passengers aged 17 or younger).

•      Bans all cell phone use for newly licensed drivers (12 month period)

•      Bans texting for new drivers.

•      Bans texting for bus drivers.

•      Bans handheld phones and texting in school zones.

Elsewhere, 43 states and the District of Columbia prohibit text messaging for anyone that drives. Twelve states and the District ban the use of handheld cell phones while behind the wheel.

Other Ways to Curb Distracted Driving – There's Even an App for It

Laws that prohibit or limit the use of mobile devices help reduce the distracted driving issue and its oft-devastating consequences. However, bans and the fines linked to offenses cannot solely put an end to distracted driving. Heightened awareness programs that educate and remind drivers of the dangers associated with the risky practice also influence many drivers to make good driving decisions.

There are even “apps” for the prevention of distracted driving. These apps tend to be marketed to parents of new drivers. The basic idea is that the phone “senses” motion in the vehicle and the phone is disabled, except for emergency calls.

Houston area Personal Injury Attorney

Unfortunately, the risk of accidents still exists on our roadways. If you have suffered a personal injury from a car accident caused by a distracted driver, contact the Law Office of Lori Elaine Laird today at 832-699-1966. Our firm handles all its cases with professionalism, dedication and personal attention.

Lori Elaine Laird

Former police officer. Aggressive, experienced trial attorney.

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