Distracted driving is the act of driving while doing something else that takes the attention of the driver away from the road. It could be anything including eating, drinking, taking care of children, grooming, using a navigation system, adjusting the radio, or using a cellphone. There are three categories of distraction:
- Cognitive – the driver’s mind wanders from the act of driving the car
- Manual – the driver’s hands leave the wheel
- Visual – the driver’s eyes leave the road
A distraction can fall into one or all three of these categories. The use of technology, including cellphones, while driving is particularly dangerous because it incorporates all three types of distractions, thus putting passengers and other travelers on the road at great risk. For this reason, use of a handheld cellphone while driving is strictly prohibited in many states. New Jersey takes the ban a step further by considering use of a handheld device while driving as a primary offense. Under this rule, a police officer can pull over a motorist for the offense without having to witness any other violation.
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Distracted Driving and Teen Drivers
The number of drivers who own a smartphone continues to grow. For young people particularly, who have become accustomed to texting at an early age, the behavior seems natural and is therefore difficult to stop. Indeed, studies show that drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of fatal distracted driving crashes. Some states, including New Jersey, have laws for teen drivers banning the use of any cellphone – handheld or hands free. In New Jersey, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatality for young people aged 16 to 20.
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Safety of Hands-free Cellphones
Research shows that even a hands-free phone conversation is a cognitive distraction that can cause drivers to miss crucial visual and audio signals that could prevent a car accident. Driving skills are even further diminished if the conversation is emotionally upsetting.
Cellphone Use and Liability
Besides breaking the law by using a cellphone while driving, careless drivers that cause accidents can be sued for personal injuries if they are found to have been using a cellphone or other device at the time of, or in the moments before a crash. In some cases, an employer may be liable for a car accident if an employee was on a work-related call or was texting related to work at the time of an accident. Many employers institute their own cellphone bans for driving. For questions concerning car accidents in New Jersey and liability, call the New Jersey car accident lawyers at the law offices of Harold J. Gerr.
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Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving Car Accidents
Research shows that the average time it takes a person to view a text is five seconds. While traveling at 55 mph, that is long enough for the car to cover the distance of a football field. Many people make the mistake of believing that they can concentrate on two tasks simultaneously. However, scientific studies of the brain show that it is simply impossible. Drivers can avoid causing a serious distracted driving car accident by following these tips:
- Before starting to drive check the position of mirrors, adjust the heat or AC, and preset the radio so it will not be necessary to regulate them while driving.
- Disciplining children while driving can be a major distraction. Keep children busy during car rides with games, coloring books, or DVDs.
- Download and sign the pledge to drive phone-free from distraction.gov.
- Eat before or after driving, but not during a trip. If you must have food in the car, make sure it is secured and avoid hot or messy foods.
- Map out routes in advance or designate a passenger to navigate.
- Put cellphones away to avoid the temptation of checking messages or answering calls.
- Teach teens to speak out if they are a passenger in a car where the driver is distracted.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Assist Those Injured in Distracted Driving Accidents
The New Jersey car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr know how the injuries from a car accident can impact the lives of innocent people. We make sure each case we handle receives personalized representation to ensure the best possible outcome. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or contact us online. An initial consultation is free of charge and we have evening and weekend appointments available.
Our office is in Highland Park, New Jersey, but we are happy to meet with you in your home or in the hospital if needed. We proudly serve clients in New Brunswick, Edison, Somerset, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy and Colonia, New Jersey.