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Combating Distracted Driving: Focus on Being a Safe Driver

Teen talking on a cell phone while driving a car.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Distracted driving has emerged as a significant concern on Louisiana roads, posing a serious risk to motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. It includes any activity that shifts attention away from driving to something else. Common distractions include using a cell phone, eating, and managing a navigation system.

You see it every day in New Orleans: people using cell phones, eating, grooming, and using built-in infotainment systems while driving. However, what may seem like harmless actions can have devastating consequences, leading to severe motor vehicle accidents and life-altering injuries.

In the aftermath of a car accident caused by distracted driving, it's crucial to understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation. Consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and support as you navigate the legal process.

What are the categories of distracted driving?

Distracted driving can be categorized into three main types, each representing different ways a driver's attention can be diverted from the road:

  • Visual distractions: These involve taking your eyes off the road. Examples include looking at a GPS device, reading a billboard, checking a text message, or even observing activities outside the vehicle.
  • Manual distractions: These occur when you take your hands off the steering wheel. Actions such as eating, adjusting the radio or climate controls, reaching for objects in the car, and texting or dialing on a phone are all manual distractions.
  • Cognitive distractions: These distractions happen when your mind is not focused on driving. This can occur during conversations with passengers, daydreaming, driving under emotional distress, or being engrossed in an audiobook or podcast.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this type of behavior claims over 3,000 lives each year, a tragic figure, especially considering it's entirely preventable. It's easy to overlook the risks of common driving distractions. If you have the habit of getting distracted or multitasking, consider developing the habit of awareness. Below are three key ways to stay safe and avoid a crash.

Stay vigilant behind the wheel

The key to avoiding distracted driving is to maintain focus on the road. Diverting your attention even momentarily increases the risk of a car accident, no matter how confident you are in your ability to multitask behind the wheel. Setting up your driving environment before departure is the best way to avoid distractions. Adjust mirrors, set GPS destinations, select music playlists, and manage climate controls before you begin driving.

Also, avoid limiting passenger interactions. While it's impossible to ignore passengers, try to keep conversations light and avoid engaging in any emotionally charged or complex discussions that could distract you from driving.

Avoid phone use

Using a cell phone while driving is responsible for over 10% of fatal distracted driving incidents. Individuals aged 25 to 34 are particularly prone to this behavior. It's crucial to resist the urge to use your phone while driving.

To avoid these risks, consider adopting the following practices using your phone's 'Do Not Disturb' mode. Most smartphones now have features that limit notifications while driving, which can help reduce the temptation to look at your phone. To avoid the temptation to use it, place your phone where you can't easily access it while driving, such as in the glove compartment or the backseat.

Adhere to traffic laws

Be aware of Louisiana's traffic laws regarding distracted driving. If caught texting or using a handheld device while driving, first-time offenders can face a fine of up to $175. The penalties increase for repeated offenses, with fines up to $500 for each subsequent violation.

There are enhanced penalties for texting or using a phone while driving in a school zone during posted hours. Fines can range from $300 to $1000, and drivers may also face the possibility of community service requirements. If distracted driving leads to an accident, the fines can be doubled.

Get legal help if you were hurt in a distracted driving crash

No matter how responsible you are behind the wheel, you can't control the actions of others. If you were injured in a collision because someone else was driving distracted, The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC can help you seek justice and fair compensation. Our law firm serves injured motorists and their families in the New Orleans area, and we would be honored to talk to you about your potential legal case.

Don't delay legal action after a distracted driving crash. Trust a lawyer dedicated to your needs. Contact our law firm in New Orleans today for a free case evaluation.

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