Distracted driving is an epidemic. It threatens cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers. It causes accidents, leads to serious injuries and takes lives.
Despite all of this, many drivers act like they can't avoid distractions, as if it's out of their hands. Even after a crash, they blame an inanimate device, rather than themselves.
"I didn't see you," they say. "My cell phone went off!" Or maybe they complain about how the GPS told them to turn and they looked over to see how close that turn was. Perhaps they cite distractions like passengers in the car or even other accidents outside of the car.
The driver's fault
The fact of the matter is that distracted driving accidents are the driver's fault. The cellphone may be a reason. A passenger may be a reason. But they are not excuses. They are not things to blame, as if they caused the accident. The driver caused the accident. It is possible to avoid distractions on the road, and drivers have an obligation to do so. Failing to do it puts the blame squarely on them.
What can they do? If someone tells you that distraction is inevitable, just tell them about these key tips:
- Use automated phone services, such as an automatic text reply system or a voicemail system. Let callers talk to the phone, not you.
- Turn your phone off. Don't just set it aside. Shut it all the way down and only power it back up when you get out of the car.
- Turn to passengers for help. Before you start driving, hand the phone to your passenger and tell them to respond to messages so that you can watch the road.
- Set up the GPS first. Don't wait until you're driving to type in your destination. Do that in the driveway.
- Take care of other things in the driveway, as well. Adjust the mirrors. Turn on the radio. Whatever you need to do to get ready to drive, do it first.
- Talk to the kids before you leave the house. Children are one of the biggest driving distractions. Give them toys, snacks and anything else they want before leaving. Explain to them that, once you're driving, you can't help them.
- Do not be afraid to pull over. Getting to your destination on time is not worth an accident. Nothing you have to do is that important. If you can't avoid a distraction, pull the car over.
While doing all of this can help you avoid a crash, what about other drivers? You can still get seriously injured when a distracted driver hits you in a crosswalk or drifts into your lane. Make sure you know how to seek financial compensation.