Most drivers are broadly aware of how dangerous distraction can be, and they may consistently avoid handling mobile devices while driving because of that risk. Those who get caught texting while driving could face a variety of consequences, including a citation issued by a police officer if they get caught in the act. They could also be liable for any crash that they cause because of their impaired focus.
Unfortunately, the rules about distracted driving in Pennsylvania primarily focus on technological devices and not on secondary sources of distraction. There are numerous other types of distraction other than digital distraction that can be equally dangerous for those in motor vehicles.
The presence of passengers
Discussions with passengers and their needs during a drive can be a major distraction for a motorist. Parents driving with children in their vehicles are often more distracted than those driving on their own. Teenagers with other young adult passengers in their vehicles may have a markedly difficult time keeping their focus on traffic safety. Drivers of all ages and skill levels may need to split their attention between a passenger and driving, which can increase crash risk.
Eating and drinking
A surprising number of people think that there is nothing wrong with operating a motor vehicle with only one hand on the wheel. They use the other to grip a cup of coffee or a cheeseburger. Most people think nothing of using both hands to eat if they are in heavy traffic or on a highway. Eating and drinking create both manual risk by taking someone’s hand off of the wheel and also cognitive distraction. People pay more attention to food that they want to eat than they do to their surroundings. If they spill something, that may only serve to amplify their degree of distraction.
Built-in screens and GPS devices
Although people generally recognize that they should not use mobile devices when driving, they may not consider the use of built-in devices a source of danger. However, the screens in a vehicle can be as distracting as handheld devices. Even navigation tools can increase someone’s distraction if they attempt to input an address while actively operating a motor vehicle. The harsh reality is that any activity that takes someone’s hands off of the wheel, eyes off of the road or focus off of driving is a dangerous distraction.
Recognizing and avoiding common distractions can help people avoid a situation in which they would be at fault, should a crash occur.