In Las Vegas, there are various forms of distracted driving, which refer to any activity that causes a driver to divert his or her attention from the road. The three main types of distracted driving are visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road, manual distractions involve taking one or both hands off the steering wheel, and cognitive distractions occur when a driver’s attention is shifted away from driving.
In the past, most safety messages for drivers were focused on preventing drunk driving. But today, with the widespread use of smartphones, multitasking while driving has become a common practice, and distracted driving has become a major concern. Estimates put distracted driving as a contributing factor in 25-30% of all car accidents.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Driving distractions refer to anything that diverts your attention from the task of driving. This behavior is highly risky and poses a threat not only to the occupants of your vehicle, but also to other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. Such distractions may involve activities that take your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. Among the top culprits that cause distracted driving are electronic devices.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Research shows that in 2020, distracted driving caused 3,142 deaths from accidents. This indicates that 8% of fatal crashes, 14% of crashes resulting in injury, and 13% of all police-reported car crashes were due to distracted driving. Additionally, 6% of drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident. Sadly, there were 587 deaths of pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-vehicle occupants caused by distracted driving.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, reaching for a moving object while driving can increase your chances of having an accident by 9 times. Driving while drowsy increases your risk by 4 times. Looking at an external object can increase your risk of a crash by 3.7 times, while reading can increase it by 3.4 times. Dialing a phone while driving can increase your risk by 2.8 times, and eating while driving can increase it by 1.6 times. Even talking on a hand-held phone can make you 1.3 times more likely to have an accident.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are three categories of distracted driving.
There are various distractions that can divert your attention from the road while driving. Some examples are things like a car crash or a flailing tube dancer on the side of the road, but distractions can also occur inside your car. This might include checking the radio to see what the current song is, searching for misplaced items on the floor, or looking at your passenger.
If you take your eyes off the road, you may not notice the vehicles around you or the traffic signals. Which increases the chances of missing important signals and causing an accident, or colliding with the car in front of you.
Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the steering wheel. Changing radio stations, reaching for objects, eating or drinking, or adjusting temperature controls is a form of manual distraction. This can be dangerous as it increases the time it takes for you to respond to hazards on the road and take evasive action such as swerving. It’s essential to keep your hands on the wheel and remain attentive while driving.
A cognitive distraction refers to anything that takes your mind off driving, such as driving while upset, drowsy, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Examples of cognitive distractions include road rage, singing your favorite song, arguing with a passenger, or daydreaming.
Driving while feeling drowsy or fatigued can be dangerous as it causes cognitive distraction. It is believed that driving while drowsy or fatigued is one of the causes of over 100,000 car accidents every year, leading to about 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
Some people believe that there exists a fourth type of distraction, known as auditory distraction. For example, driving with music may be considered distracted driving. This category includes anything auditory that grabs your attention, distracting you from driving. It can include attention-grabbing music and hands-free phone conversations. These distractions can be classified as cognitive, as they divert your attention from the road. Where loud noises or music cause you to lose focus, like when other cars honk to alert you of something or when emergency vehicles approach, these distractions may be classified as auditory.
The Most Common Types of Distracted Driving in Las Vegas
There are certain common causes of distracted driving.
There are several common reasons for visual distractions while driving, which can be worsened by summer driving dangers in Nevada. They include checking your phone or infotainment system for messages, GPS directions, or music/podcast selection. Other distractions may include billboards, attractions, accidents on the side of the road, or focusing more on a driver who cut you off than the road ahead. Searching for personal items in your bag or elsewhere in the car can also divert your attention from driving.
There are various common manual distractions that can occur while driving. These distractions include eating, drinking, or smoking, grooming yourself by combing hair or applying makeup, adjusting the radio or air conditioning, using a cellphone, and reaching for a dropped item either forward, backward, or sideways.
Engaging in distracted driving doesn’t always require taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. Even experienced drivers should maintain their mental focus, as it’s critical for safe driving. Common cognitive distractions include talking on the phone. Even talking with a hands-free device can cause a cognitive distraction. Cognitive distractions can include conversing with passengers, disciplining children in the car, driving while experiencing heightened emotional states like anger, anxiety, or sadness, daydreaming, and driving after you have had little sleep or are feeling fatigued.
Using a cellular phone while driving is a common distraction that can be dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions. It’s not just a visual distraction, but also creates a manual and cognitive distraction.
When driving, to read or send a text message or email, you’ll need to look away from the road for around 5 seconds. This is like driving the length of a football field with a blindfold on if you’re going at 55mph.
This is why the risk of crashing while texting is so high. People are just as impaired when talking or texting while driving as someone who is driving with the legal alcohol limit in Nevada of 0.08%.
Steps to Limit Distractions While Driving a Motor Vehicle
To ensure safe driving, you can take the following steps to avoid distractions:
- Adjust your GPS, sound system, mirrors, and climate control settings before starting your journey.
- Finish eating meals and snacks, and complete all personal grooming before getting on the road.
- Secure your children and pets, and if they need attention while driving, pull over to address their needs.
- Store all objects and possessions in a secure place to prevent them from rolling around and causing distractions.
- Keep electronic devices out of reach, and if you have a passenger, ask them to handle any texting or calling.
- If you need to use your phone or engage in any other activity that requires your attention, pull over to a safe location and stop the car.
To drive safely, give your undivided attention to the road. If you find yourself multitasking while driving, try to allocate extra time in your schedule so that you can focus solely on driving.
Nevada Laws Regarding Distracted Driving
In Nevada, it is against the law to drive while using a cell phone or texting. The penalty for the first offense is a $50 fine, for the second offense within seven years it is a $100 fine, and for a third or subsequent offense, it is a $250 fine. If the offense occurs in a work zone, the fines can be doubled and additional court fees may be charged. Additionally, if caught, you may receive 4 demerit points on your license.
Distracted driving is not only illegal, but it can also result in a person being held responsible for any injuries, damages, or fatalities that may occur as a result of an accident.
If you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury in a Nevada accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to file a claim against the driver to recover compensation for any damages resulting from the collision. To receive a settlement award or verdict that covers all your economic and non-economic (quality-of-life) damages, it is crucial to have a Las Vegas distracted driver accident lawyer on your side to advocate for your case.
If you have been injured, your injury attorneys can help you seek compensation for various damages. These include lost earnings, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, household help expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and inconvenience.