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Protecting Yourself Against Distracted Drivers

Distracted driving has always been a problem in the United States. Unfortunately, it is becoming more of an issue with the increased use of cell phones and smartphones. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control report that more than nine people are killed, and more than 1,060 people are injured because of accidents that involve a distracted driver. Even in 2011, one in four accidents involved the use of a cell phone either during or just before the crash.

Smartphones can be a handy tool on the road, as they provide navigation and information regarding surrounding attractions and resources. However, they can also be a serious hazard because people text, check email, and even watch videos while they drive. All of these practices are extremely dangerous and can lead to serious auto and truck accidents.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Institute notes that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. While cell phones are often to blame for distracted driving, distraction can occur in other ways as well. A driver could be eating, adjusting their music or navigation, or simply talking to their passengers and become distracted.

It takes about five seconds to send a text message. When you drive at 55 miles per hour, that five seconds means you have traveled the length of a football field without watching the road. This is a frightening realization for most drivers. Even simply using a phone to call, text, or dial a phone number increases your chances of being involved in an accident by 23 times.

Spotting a Distracted Driver

While you can discourage family and friends from engaging in distracted driving, there is often little you can do to prevent others from using their phones or participating in other practices that lead to distracted driving. Instead, you may just need to practice defensive driving techniques to avoid those who may be driving distracted.

Spotting a distracted driver can be difficult, but in some situations, it is fairly straightforward. Distracted drivers often show the following signs:

  • Varying speeds for no real reason
  • Weaving in and out of lanes of traffic
  • “Floating” or drifting into other lanes or off the side of the road for brief periods
  • Staying stopped at traffic lights or stop signs longer than necessary
  • Going faster or slower than the current flow of traffic
  • Sudden braking or delayed braking when the car ahead of them slows or stops
  • The driver is wearing headphones or an earpiece

Protecting Yourself from Distracted Drivers

If you spot a distracted driver, you should use the following tips to help keep yourself safe around him or her.

  1. Avoid the driver, if possible. If you can, move away from the distracted driver. That may require that you speed up or slow down for a brief period. Getting a lane or two away from the driver may also be a good idea.
  2. Give the driver plenty of room. If you are unable to completely avoid the driver, be sure to give him or her plenty of room. You may need to stop suddenly behind the vehicle or move out of the way. You need to give yourself some extra reaction time.
  3. Practice defensive driving at intersections. Be sure to look both ways before going through an intersection, even if you have the right of way. Distracted drivers may not realize when it is their turn and may even completely run through traffic lights or signs.
  4. Call the police in dangerous circumstances. If you believe that the driver is a threat to others around him or her, make a mental note of their license plate number and let the police know.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you may have legal options. Contact the Noland Law Firm by calling 816-656-2596 for more information.

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