Auto Accidents Involving Distraction
Resources for Colorado Drivers on Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a motorist’s attention from the critical task of driving. All distractions endanger drivers, bystanders, and passengers, and can quickly lead to deadly auto accidents.
Brain Not Built to Multitask
The human brain is simply not built to multitask. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another. Because the brain can juggle tasks very rapidly, this leads us to mistakenly conclude that we are doing two tasks at the same time, when in reality, the brain is actually performing only one task at a time.
If you’re thinking about talking on the phone or sending a text while driving, you’re simply not capable of focusing completely on either activity. While your brain is shifting its focus from one thing to the other, it often becomes overloaded, resulting in slower reaction time and reduced driving performance. So even if your device is out of your hand, it’s still occupying vital space in your mind.
According to a recent AAA study, drivers can be distracted for up to 27 seconds after doing what may be considered relatively harmless activities — changing music, dialing a phone number, calling a contact, or sending a text message — even when using hands-free technology or the infotainment system installed in their vehicle.
If you talk on a cell phone while driving, you are four times more likely to get into an accident than if you put the phone down, basically the same odds as someone who is legally drunk.
The Colorado General Assembly adopted legislation in 2009 that added new restrictions on cell phone use and text messaging while driving. Previously, only drivers with a temporary permit or minor’s instruction permit were prohibited from using a wireless communication device while behind the wheel, but current law prohibits:
- Any driver under 18 from using a cell phone while driving.
- Adult drivers from using a cell phone to text or send similar forms of transmission while driving.
During an emergency, however, drivers of any age may use a wireless device for phone calls or text messages to contact law enforcement.
While GPS systems make driving more convenient, they can also be a distraction to drivers by taking their focus off of the road. Here are some important safety tips for using a GPS while driving:
- Mount your device properly, positioning it out of driving sight lines so that it will not block your view of the road.
- Program your GPS before you start driving. If you have a passenger, ask for help with navigation.
- Utilize voice directions. Listening to voice commands instead of reading step-by-step instructions will help keep your eyes on the road and decrease your chances of being involved in an accident.
According to a Property Casualty 360 report on distracted driving, talking with or looking at other people in the car is extremely distracting for drivers, and friends made bad company for 5 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes, particularly for young drivers.
Although disengaging from reality might recharge creative energies or provide a break from a hectic day, doing so while driving can be fatal. Driving “in a fog” or seemingly on autopilot is the riskiest driving behavior of all, according to an Erie Insurance report. According to the insurer, daydreamers accounted for 62 percent of distracted drivers involved in road fatalities.
Focus on Avoiding Distraction
The best way to avoid distracted driving is to make a concerted effort to change your behavior and alter the way you think about driving. Treat driving like flying: establish a set period of travel time when no calls are made, texts exchanged or emails sent. Period.