More than once, you may have experienced that terrifying moment when another vehicle crossed the center line because the driver was looking down at a cell phone. If the driver looked up just in time to avoid an accident, your heart may have raced, but you got home safely. If the driver was too focused on the text message or social media, the moment may have ended in tragedy.
Distracted driving is a serious problem in Arizona, and it is not always cell phones that take drivers’ attention from the road. Anything that takes your mind from the task, your eyes from the road or your hands from the wheel is a distraction, and distractions can result in deadly accidents.
Texting vs. drinking
Perhaps the most serious form of distracted driving is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many states are working to tighten the laws and penalties for this act of negligence, making drinking and driving a crime even if the driver does not have an accident or cause injuries to others.
However, some studies show that texting and driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving, but the penalties are much less severe. Texting or other cell phone use behind the wheel occupies all three essential factors of your attention: your eyes, hands and mind. Even if a driver looks up from a cell phone, his or her mind may not refocus on the situation ahead in time to avoid an accident.
Other common distractions
Even those who keep their phones out of sight while driving may find other distractions, such as:
- Changing the radio station or choosing a new playlist
- Dealing with children
- Eating, drinking and smoking
- Adjusting the GPS system
- Shaving, putting on makeup or other grooming
- Carrying on with friends in the vehicle
These are only a few examples. In fact, a driver’s own thoughts or emotions may be the source of distraction that results in an accident. If you are the victim of such an accident, you may have many questions about whether the driver was fit to be behind the wheel.
Although legislators have recently made changes related to texting and driving, Arizona has some of the weakest distracted driving laws in the country. Unfortunately, even stricter laws cannot change the behavior of a driver who refuses to focus on operating a vehicle safely and responsibly. These drivers may know they are risking fines and other legal penalties, but they may not consider the lifelong toll you and others may pay if distracted driving leads to an accident.