People are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers posed by distracted driving, especially since the government has highlighted the behaviour as problematic through tightened laws and educational campaigns. While distracted driving has become almost synonymous with texting and driving, people may be less aware that the term refers to a much broader range of activities performed by a driver while they is behind the wheel.
Distracted driving occurs when a driver’s attention is diverted away from the act of driving. The diversion of attention can be caused by another person’s talking, texting, cell phone use, changing channels on a stereo or eating. The issue is that driving requires a person to use multiple types of attention, including visual, auditory, cognitive and tactile, in order to appropriately respond to traffic conditions. When a person’s attention is lessened, his or her reaction time may not be adequate enough to avoid an accident or they may cross the centre line of a highway due to glancing away from the road.
In addition to the many other activities that can cause accidents due to being distracted, hands-free texting has also been shown to be highly distracting to drivers. Drivers owe a duty-of-care while they are engaged in driving, and allowing themselves to become distracted places both themselves and others in danger.
When people violate the duty-of-care they owe to others and cause car accidents as a result, they may be held civilly liable to those who are injured. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, an injured plaintiff may recover damages to compensate him or her for the losses suffered. Injured victims may want to meet with a personal injury lawyer, as they may be able to assist with filing a civil complaint.