Distracted Driving a Growing Problem in Alabama

Posted in Car Accidents on June 5, 2019.

Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous driver behaviors in 2019. Operating a motor vehicle without dedicating 100% of your attention to the driving task can make it impossible to drive safely and avoid serious car accidents in Birmingham. In 2017, 3,166 victims lost their lives because of distracted driving in the U.S. Alabama is one of the worst states for distracted driving in the country. According to a national data compilation from Safewise, Alabama ranks second in the country for distracted driving.

What Is Distracted Driving?

A safe and prudent driver keeps his or her eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on the driving task at all times. This is the proper way to operate a motor vehicle. Distracted driving can refer to any task that interferes with the driver’s ability to pay full attention to the driving task. Distracted driving can make it impossible to safely control a vehicle, as well as to avoid collisions. There are three main types of driver distractions.

  • Manual distractions. A manual distraction is anything that takes the driver’s hands away from the wheel. It could be a cellphone, electronic device, food, drink, hairbrush, GPS system, radio, map, or anything else the driver has to hold or touch while driving. Removing one’s hands from the wheel can reduce reaction times.
  • Visual distractions. Visual distractions take the driver’s eyes away from the road. Looking at a cellphone screen, food, a passenger, or at external distractions such as billboards or car accidents is driver negligence if it interferes with the ability to safely operate the vehicle.
  • Mental Distractions. A mental, or cognitive, distraction is one that takes the driver’s mind away from the task at hand. Driving while upset, angry, or emotionally distraught are examples of mental distractions. Daydreaming, driving drowsy, or drunk driving can also lead to dangerous mental distractions.

Texting and driving is the deadliest form of driver distraction because it fulfills all three types: manual, visual, and mental. Looking down at one’s phone to send just one text at 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving across a football field with your eyes closed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drivers must do their parts to avoid distracted driving at all times.

Alabama’s Distracted Driving Problem

Although distracted drivers exist in every state, Alabama especially has an issue. Alabama currently has almost twice number of car accident deaths as the national average (21.3 vs. 11.6 deaths per 100,000, respectively). It is illegal to text and drive in the state of Alabama, but drivers can currently use handheld devices for other reasons without breaking the law. That may change with a proposed bill (nicknamed CiCi’s Law) that would prohibit all types of handheld use in Alabama. The penalties would range from a $50 to $150 ticket. The bill has passed through the House and is on its way to the Senate for approval.

In the meantime, drivers in Alabama can still get away with using handheld devices to talk, watch videos, play games, and scroll through social media – until, that is, the distraction causes the driver to break a roadway rule or cause an accident. Drivers who cause accidents because of any form of distracted driving may face moving violation charges and liability for victims’ damages. Distracted driving is against the law in Alabama if it interferes with the ability to drive safely.

Stay safe in Alabama by never picking up your handheld device while driving. The roads are already full of drivers who are not paying adequate attention to the road. Protect yourself and others by keeping your eyes on the road and your attention on driving. If you need to make a call, use a hands-free device such as Bluetooth. As well as being a responsible and safe driver, you will also be prepared if the State Senate passes CiCi’s law.