Virginia drivers who talk on cellphones endanger the lives of others

While talking and texting on cellular devices are significant forms of driver distraction, there are other dangerous distractions that drivers should avoid as well.

According to a 2015 report from the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of all Americans now own some sort of smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011. Although these amazing electronic devices have transformed the way people interact with one another, they are also responsible for claiming the lives of thousands of people each year. Distraction.gov reports that in 2013, 3,154 people were killed and approximately 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving auto accidents. In order to combat these high numbers, many states, including Virginia, have enacted laws prohibiting drivers from texting and driving. However, studies show that simply talking on a cell phone poses a significant threat to motorists as well.

Understanding cognitive distraction

Cognitive distraction is just one of the three types of driver distraction, along with manual and visual distractions. While manual and visual distractions require a driver to remove their hands off of the steering wheel and their eyes off of the road, cognitive distractions cause drivers to remove their mental focus from driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When drivers are no longer concentrating on the road in front of them, they are more likely to cause a tragic car accident. Talking on a hand-held or hands free mobile device is considered a dangerous form of cognitive distraction as well.

What is inattention blindness?

A comprehensive paper released by the National Safety Council explains how the human brain is unable to effectively complete two or more complex tasks at the same time, such as engaging in a conversation on a cell phone and driving. Instead the brain shifts quickly between the tasks. This can leave brief moments where the driver is not fully aware of what is going on in their driving environment, also referred to as inattention blindness. Although the driver may be looking directly in front of them, they fail to take in and mentally process up to 50 percent of information in their visual field.

Inattention blindness decreases driver response time, and can make it difficult for drivers to respond to certain hazards, such as objects or people in the road, bad weather conditions or other motorists' erratic driving behavior.

Other driving distractions

Although many drivers think of talking or texting on mobile devices as a primary source of distracted driving, there are other dangerous distractive behaviors as well. According to distraction.gov, any task that diverts motorists' attention off of driving is considered extremely dangerous and can potentially cause severe auto accidents. This includes eating, drinking, programming a navigation device, reading, picking objects up off of the floor, adjusting the radio and handing items to backseat passengers.

Find legal assistance

People who have been victimized by negligent distracted drivers can seek compensation for their injuries, property damage, lost wages from work and emotional trauma that they have experienced as a result of the accident. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, consider contacting an attorney who has a thorough knowledge of Virginia state law.

Keywords: distracted, driving, texting, accident