Types of Distracted Driving and When You Can Be Pulled Over for Them

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2018.

Distracted driving plays a role in many, if not most, car accidents in Alabama. Texting and cell phone use is among the most common types of distracted behavior. This practice alone contributes to 1,100 injuries and eight deaths each day in the United States, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are several different types of distracted driving behaviors that lead to car accidents.

As a responsible driver, you should remain informed of Alabama’s laws and your rights. If you’ve been injured in a crash by a distracted driver, contact our Birmingham accident lawyers for a free consultation.

Distracted driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as any action that takes a driver’s attention from the road. Specifically, there are three different types of driver distraction:

  • Cognitive distractions. Cognitive, or mental, distractions occur when a driver doesn’t fully focus on the act of driving. Examples of cognitive distractions include having a conversation with another passenger, worrying about a work or personal situation, or even becoming engrossed in a favorite podcast. When one of these things takes away your full attention from the task of driving, it’s considered distracted driving.
  • Visual distractions. A visual distraction may take many forms, for example, it could be a car accident on the side of the road, a compelling billboard, or even checking the backseat to make sure your children’s seatbelts are securely fastened. GPS devices, cell phones, and tablets also fall into this category.
  • Manual distractions. Finally, manual distractions occur when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel for any reason. Common examples of manual distractions include eating and drinking, adjusting the radio or navigation system, or reaching to help a child with something in the backseat.

Cell phone use is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions: texting, for example, requires mental attention, a free hand to type, and it takes your eyes off the road. For this reason, many states have passed statutes that prohibit cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle.

When Can I Be Pulled Over for Distracted Driving in Alabama?

Alabama has a texting ban that officers enforce throughout the state. Therefore, you may be pulled over when an officer sees evidence of texting behind the wheel. You may also be pulled over if your distracted driving activity leads to other traffic violations. For example, fiddling with a radio may cause you to run a stop sign or fail to yield to another driver, which may be subject to citation. If you have a teen driver who is 16 or 17, an officer may pull them over in Alabama if they see any indication of handheld device use, because this is strictly prohibited for novice drivers.

Limiting Distracted Driving

You can reduce your risk of distracted driving by observing some simple actions:

  • Take care of business before hitting the road. Eat a good breakfast, find your favorite radio station, and make sure all your mirrors and controls are correctly positioned. Check your kids’ seatbelts and tend to their needs before leaving the driveway. Teach your children that you must keep your attention on the road at all times for your safety.
  • Turn your cell phone off and put it out of reach. This helps avoid temptation and can greatly reduce your risk of being in a car accident.
  • Save heated debates for later. You can’t avoid conversations in the car, but thought-provoking or serious conversations are best saved for when you’re not operating a motor vehicle.

Distracted driving leads to thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths throughout Alabama each year. Cell phone use is among the most dangerous of these actions, but anything that diverts your full attention from the road can put you in danger. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to maximize your safety on the road – and avoid the devastating consequences of a car accident.