For many people, distracted driving means taking your eyes off the road. This definition implies that the danger is restricted to not seeing the road during the time when your eyes are directed elsewhere. However, distracted driving involves more dangers than merely not seeing the road. There’s another type of distraction, called cognitive distraction. It is equally dangerous and has a number of effects that seriously compromise your safety. Cognitive distraction occurs when you take your mind off your driving. This means you’re driving on autopilot where you rely on reflexes, muscle memory, and pattern recognition to do your driving for you.
Not paying attention to your driving is obviously dangerous because you aren’t noticing potential dangers, such as a car in front of you that is tailgating dangerously close to the car in front of it. This is a potential accident that could happen right in front of you, but because you aren’t paying attention, you do nothing about it, such as increasing your following distance. In addition to the dangers of a lack of mental focus, cognitive distraction has two other deadly effects:
Inattention blindness (or inattentional blindness), occurs when a distraction involves intense mental focus. For example, when you’re talking on a hands-free cell phone and you’re focused on the conversation, your eyes become partially blind to the traffic scene in front of you. That is, you stop seeing cars or pedestrians and other details on the road, even though your eyes are looking straight at them.
The brain doesn’t have enough processing power to handle both the conversation and the visual input from your eyes. This causes various things on the road to disappear without your awareness of it happening. According to the National Safety Council, you may become blind to 50% of the road scene in front of you.
Studies made by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have found that it takes up to 27 seconds to recover from a distraction when driving. For example, if you’re talking on a cell phone or adjusting a GPS device, and you switch your focus back to driving, your mind will remain distracted and will require up to 27 seconds to “get back up to speed” to what’s happening on the road.
This means that when engaging in a distracting task while waiting at a red light, your mind remains distracted even after the light turns green and you start moving again. During those first twenty-seven or so seconds, you’re at risk of getting into an accident. This also means that you can’t count on snapping out of a distracted state quickly enough to handle a sudden emergency.
If a negligent or reckless driver injured you in an accident, seek legal advice from an experienced DC accident lawyer. Contact us at 844-Take-MyCase or visit our website at www.844TakeMyCase.com.
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