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Types Of Distracted Driving – By A Philadelphia, PA & NJ Car Accident Lawyer

By now, everyone knows that texting while driving is dangerous.  In fact, it is illegal for Pennsylvania drivers to text while driving.  This includes when drivers are stopped at a red light or stopped in traffic.  However, texting while driving is not the only form of distracted driving that causes crashes.  Other forms of distractions do as well, such as:

  • eating while driving,
  • playing with the radio,
  • looking for something in the car, and
  • applying make-up.

Related: No Driving Mode On Smartphones: Can It Stop Drivers From Texting While Driving In PA?

These above forms of distractions make drivers take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel while driving. 

There are also other forms of distracted driving that do not require drivers to take their eyes off the road and take their hands off the wheel.  Nevertheless, they are still distractions that can lead to serious and even fatal car, truck or pedestrian accidents in Pennsylvania.  These types of distractions are known as mental distractions, and we will discuss a few of them in this article.

Phila. PA & NJ Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer - Mental Distraction

Listening To Music

The radio and a CD player have become standard features in many automobiles.  Though music provides some form of entertainment to drivers, it is nevertheless, a mental distraction.  Sometimes, drivers may enjoy a song so much that they sing and dance to the song and may not realize that the traffic ahead has come to a stop and rear-end a car.

Talking On The Phone

Another type of mental distraction is talking on a cell phone.  One thing I see a lot of drivers on the road do is have one hand holding their cell phone, and their other hand is on the wheel.  They are talking through the speaker on their cell phones while driving. Though the driver’s eyes are on the road and one hand is on the wheel, they may be mentally distracted because they are talking. This is especially true if the conversation is of a serious nature. Drivers become mentally distracted and may not see that a light at an intersection has turned red. As a result, they run a red light and cause a serious intersection accident.

Talking To Passengers In The Car

Many drivers do not think that talking to passengers is a form of distracted driving.  Unfortunately, it is.  Just like talking on a phone, talking to someone requires a driver’s attention.  It is a mental distraction.  If the driver and passenger are talking about a serious or emotional topic, the driver is not focusing on the road and his reaction time to an emergency situation is going to be slower. For instance, the driver may be driving though a construction zone and unable to stop in time when a construction truck pulls out in front of him.

Using Voice Activated Systems

Many cars have voice activated systems that allow drivers to perform several tasks.  A voice activated system may allow a driver to call someone without dialing.  A voice activated system may also allow a driver to use a GPS system without typing in the address. Some systems even allow drivers to send an email or text via voice activation.

Many drivers think that these “hands free” systems are safe because they don’t have to take their eyes off the road or take their hands off the wheel.  That is completely untrue.  What drivers end up doing is looking at the screen to make sure that the system got what they were saying correctly, which oftentimes, is incorrect. If it is incorrect, the driver has to do it again.  Sometimes, drivers get very frustrated and have to do it many times.  In the end, they are so distracted because they are trying to get the voice activated system to work correctly and may cause a serious car accident.  These hands free or voice activated systems may be quite dangerous because not only are the driver’s eyes off the road, they are also mentally distracted because they are frustrated and may not pay attention to what is happening on the road.

It is hard for drivers not to be distracted while driving with all the new technology, such as voice activated systems, DVD players, GPS systems, etc.  Many drivers believe that because the features are in the cars, they are safe to use.  Unfortunately, they are mistaken.  These things are distractions for drivers and lead to serious accidents.  Just because they are in the car does not mean they are safe for drivers to use.

Legal Ramifications

When distracted drivers cause accidents and injuries to other motorists or pedestrians, they can be held criminally and civilly liable for the accidents.

Criminal Liability

If a driver who is texting while driving causes a fatal car crash, he may be charged with vehicular manslaughter.  If convicted, the driver may face jail time.

Civil Liability

Injured drivers, passengers or pedestrians may sue the distracted driver in a PA car accident lawsuit.  The end result is that the injured parties are financially compensated for their injuries and damages, which include:

  • medical expenses,
  • lost wages,
  • pain and suffering, and
  • out of pocket expenses.

Related PA Texting While Driving Accident Case Result: Client receives $390,000 settlement from young driver who was talking on the phone while driving in Pennsylvania

Distracted driving accidents are 100% preventable.  Drivers may think that they are not going to cause accidents because they can multi-task, but they are sadly mistaken.  Just because they haven’t caused an accident before doesn’t mean they are not going to.

Help After A Texting While Driving Accident

If you were in an accident caused by a driver who was texting or driving or otherwise distracted, call Daniel J. O’Brien, Esq. and his team to schedule a FREE consultation. 877.944.8396


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