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Is distracted driving really that dangerous?

We have probably all been guilty of getting distracted while driving at some point. It is not uncommon to get distracted by eating, tending to the needs of kids in the backseat or worrying about an important meeting at work.

However, just because distraction is common does not mean it is safe. In fact, distracted driving is reported to have been a factor in more than 3,320 fatal accidents in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Distracted driving accidents happen when drivers are engaged in mental or physical actions that take their focus away from the road.

For example, drivers who eat, drink or groom behind the wheel typically have their hands off the wheel, otherwise known as manual distraction. This can make it all but impossible to avoid hazards on the road or stay in the appropriate traffic lane.

Drivers who are consoling babies in the backseat, searching for something in the passenger's seat or rubbernecking near an accident scene can all have their eyes off the road, which is referred to as visual distraction. Anyone who isn't looking where they are going poses a serious threat to others on the road.

Stress, fatigue and daydreaming can prove to be mentally distracting and take a person's mental energy away from driving. This is considered cognitive distraction.

People who are talking, texting or surfing the Internet on their phones are especially dangerous, as their hands, eyes and attention are all simultaneously focused on tasks other than driving making them visually, manually and cognitively distracted at the same time.

It is our hope that this post serves as an important reminder of how truly dangerous it is to drive while distracted. Unfortunately, staying alert and focused on driving can only go so far in preventing an accident. We must also rely on other drivers to take the same steps to prevent an accident, which doesn't always happen.

In the event of a distracted driving accident, victims should understand that they can take action to recover damages and hold a negligent driver accountable. It may not undo an accident, but compensation can be an essential part of coping after an accident and moving forward.

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