Why distracted driving is more than texting and driving

When drivers get behind the wheel, there are many ways they can become distracted and endanger the lives of others.

Some drivers in New York believe that if they are not texting while they operate a vehicle, they are not engaging in distracting and dangerous behaviors. However, this is not true because according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver's full attention away from driving a car. This means that drivers can become distracted and endanger the lives of others when they eat, fiddle with a stereo or navigation system, groom themselves or talk on a cellphone behind the wheel.

The three types of distraction

Although there are many different ways drivers can become distracted while operating a vehicle, these distractions can be categorized into three different types:

  • Manual--Drivers who take their hands away from the steering wheel are manually distracted. For instance, if a driver reaches for something while the car is in motion, he or she is manually distracted.
  • Cognitive--When drivers take their mind off of driving, they are cognitively distracted. If, for example, a driver focuses on a conversation with a passenger, he or she is cognitively distracted.
  • Visual--When drivers take their eyes off of the road in front of them, they become visually distracted. For instance, a driver who looks at a GPS system instead of the road is visually distracted.

Manual, cognitive and visual distractions were responsible for the death of 3,477 people and 391,000 injuries in 2015 alone, states the NHTSA. Additionally, 660,000 drivers use cellphones while operating a vehicle during daylight hours every day.

Distracted driving in New York

To reduce the number of fatalities and injuries caused by distracted driving, the state of New York has enacted several distracted driving laws. According to New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, drivers are prohibited from holding an electronic device and viewing, taking or transmitting images, talking to another person using it or playing games on the device. They are also prohibited from using a handheld portable device to compose, send, read, access or save any type of electronic data, including text messages, emails and webpages.

Reach out to an attorney

Despite the existence of these laws, many drivers in New York continue to suffer emotional, physical and financial harm after being involved in a crash caused by a distracted driver. Those who were seriously injured in one of these collisions should contact an attorney in their area for legal guidance and assistance.