Distracted driving, especially in the form of texting while driving, has gained a lot of media attention here in Texas and elsewhere in recent years. There is ample justification for this. According to data compiled from 2014, 3,179 people across the country lost their lives in car crashes involving distracted drivers. Any activity that takes your attention off the road is considered a distraction, and you might not even realize that you are putting yourself and others at risk.

What activities are considered distractions?

At one time or another, nearly everyone has been guilty of mixing driving with one or more of the following common activities

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Using a navigation system (GPS)
  • Reading (including maps)
  • Adjusting the radio or other music device
  • Watching a video
  • Grooming (putting on makeup, shaving, etc.)
  • Texting

In recent years, texting, in particular, has become a nationwide problem. It requires your cognitive, visual and manual attention, which makes it one of the most dangerous distractions. A 2009 study determined that the average time that your eyes are not on the road while texting is five seconds. At 55 mph, your vehicle can travel the length of a football field in that time. When you look up again, the traffic pattern could have changed, and you might not have time to react to it. When an attorney does an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a fatal accident, one of the things he or she will look for is whether you were distracted and by what.

Are you at risk of being involved in a crash with a distracted driver?

The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) revealed that at any given moment of every day, there are 660,000 drivers across the country using their cell phones or other electronic devices while they are behind the wheel. The odds that you or a member of your family is driving next to someone who is distracted are high. If you were involved in an accident caused by a driver who was distracted, it would be beneficial to discuss the circumstances with an attorney to determine whether it is appropriate to file a lawsuit in a Texas civil court. If you are not sure about the cause of the accident you suffered, you should still speak to a lawyer about your rights.