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Will you see a distracted driver before it’s too late?

These days, it’s not unusual to walk into a waiting room, restaurant, or even a family gathering and see most everyone looking at a cellphone or other device. You probably do the same and may even feel lost and a little panicked if you leave your device behind. However, you may also know there are certain times and places when cellphone use is inappropriate and even dangerous.

It may seem obvious to say, but someone who is driving a vehicle should not be using a cellphone for any purpose. Nevertheless, the rate of accidents, injuries, and deaths related to distracted driving continues to rise. While cellphone use is the distraction that has recently gotten the most attention, it is certainly not the only way a driver may be distracted. When you are sharing the road with a distracted driver, you may want to recognize the signs.

They are all around you

A distraction can be anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off the task of driving. Anything that comes between a driver and the safe operation of a vehicle is a distraction. Some distractions are unavoidable, but others a driver may invite, placing you and others on the road in grave danger. Besides talking on a phone or texting, you could see any of the following examples of distracted driving:

  • Putting on makeup or grooming behind the wheel
  • Programming a GPS system
  • Trying to light a cigarette
  • Looking for something on the floor of the vehicle
  • Carrying on or arguing with others in the vehicle or dealing with children
  • Eating or drinking while driving
  • Tuning the radio or adjusting the temperature

Some distractions you may not see. For example, many accidents occur because a driver is daydreaming, intent on conversation in the car or on the radio, or too emotional to safely operate a vehicle. Even hands-free cellphone use does not prevent cognitive distractions and still results in numerous accidents and injuries.

You may recognize a distracted driver who swerves over the line, drives too fast or too slow, or is obviously paying attention to something other than driving. It is wise to steer clear of these dangerous drivers, let them pass you, or choose another route. However, you may not be so fortunate to identify a distracted driver before he or she collides with you. When this happens, it is within your rights to seek answers about your legal options for holding such drivers accountable.