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Surveys suggest many drivers engage in unusual, dangerous distractions

Surveys indicate that many California drivers may engage in distractions such as grooming or changing clothes, along with explicitly illegal distractions.

Most people in Oakland appreciate the dangers of driving while distracted by a cell phone, which is illegal throughout California. However, cell phone use is not the only cause of
driver inattention. Any manual, visual or cognitive task can be distracting. Unfortunately, two recent surveys suggest that many drivers give in to various non-electronic distractions, potentially without recognizing the underlying danger.

Multitasking drivers

In a survey that Oregon State University researchers recently took, teenagers admitted to a surprising range of distracted driving behaviors. As National Public Radio reports, these distractions included doing homework, applying makeup, changing contact lenses and changing outfits. Shockingly, more than one-quarter of teens admitted to changing clothes or shoes while driving.

In another recent survey, adult drivers reported engaging in similarly reckless behaviors while behind the wheel. According to The Chicago Tribune, Erie Insurance commissioned the survey to raise awareness during Distracted Driving Month in April. The survey respondents reported all of the following distracted driving behaviors:

  • Texting while driving – 30 percent of drivers admitted to this habit.
  • Combing or styling hair – 15 percent of drivers confessed to grooming while driving.
  • Changing clothes – this behavior was less common among adult drivers, but 9 percent still admitted to it.
  • Applying makeup – 8 percent of drivers reported this source of distraction.
  • Brushing or flossing teeth – this was a distraction for 4 percent of drivers.
  • Taking selfies – another 4 percent of drivers engaged in this behavior.

It is important to note that this survey was not designed to stand up as a scientific study. Still, its results are alarming. The findings suggest that many drivers freely engage in distractions that may be just as dangerous as texting.

More common distractions

Local data also suggests that many California drivers give in to distractions that are expressly illegal. In 2014, the Office of Traffic Safety reported that over one-third of surveyed drivers identified cell phone use as the top threat to roadway safety. Nearly 70 percent of the survey respondents had experienced accidents or near misses that arose due to another driver’s distraction.

Troublingly, though, many of the same drivers confessed to texting or talking while behind the wheel. For example, 45 percent of the survey respondents admitted to texting and making serious, potentially dangerous mistakes while doing so. These findings underscore the fact that many drivers may engage in dangerous diversions despite recognizing the risk involved.

Accident recourse

When distracted drivers cause accidents, injured victims may have legal recourse. This is true regardless of whether the distraction in question is explicitly outlawed. Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from driving, from grooming to changing clothes, may be considered
negligence. Accident victims who prove another driver’s negligence may be entitled to various forms of compensation.

Anyone who has been hurt because of another driver’s reckless choices should think about meeting with an attorney. A personal injury attorney may be able to provide advice on a victim’s rights and the available legal remedies.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, injury

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