In-vehicle driver distractions can be blamed for many motor vehicle accidents, from the driver texting to using a cell phone, to programming a GPS for a future destination, to reaching for something in the backseat, to looking over at a passenger while talking, to eating with one hand and driving with the other, and many more. Most of those distractions occur inside the car, and it’s too late when we see someone or something in the way of our vehicle’s path on the road. But, in-vehicle distractions are not the only causes for motor vehicle accidents. What are some of the distractions that occur outside of the car, and when does “being aware of our surroundings” turn into an accident?
Driving distractions come in all forms. In many states, we see roadside memorial markers that mark the scene of an accident. These markers serve as a place where survivors can pay tribute by leaving flowers or other items special to the person who was killed at that specific location. Controversy surrounds these roadside markers for many reasons. One of the reasons is that these markers cause the very type of distraction that should be avoided: intrigue by passers-by who should be keeping their eyes on the road. Other distractions outside of the car occur when we see construction workers who do their jobs by directing traffic through detours. We’re distracted by the change in traffic patterns or the re-routing, and don’t quite pay attention to where we’re going at all times. Even more so, roadway accidents themselves are huge distractions. We’re all guilty of “rubber-necking” when we see police cars, ambulances or fire trucks, especially if there are bodies on the road following a tragedy. Looking at the accident, instead of where we’re going, can mean an accident looming head for us if we’re not careful.
One of the ways you can avoid being tempted by viewing outside distractions is by simply paying attention to what you are actually doing—driving. Re-engage yourself and remember to pay attention by checking all your mirrors, your speed, and your traffic-related surroundings. When you keep yourself in the present, it becomes second nature to pay attention to the driving part of driving, instead of the distraction part of driving. Extend your vision and scan the entire scene in front of you; shift your focus to look for pedestrians, erratic drivers, traffic congestion, oncoming trucks and motorcycles, and bicycles (especially in the summer). Use your signals appropriately, whether it’s a hazard or routine right- or left-turn signal. Don’t tailgate and make sure you leave enough space between you and the car in front of you. This will help you escape a situation quickly if one comes your way.
If you have been injured in an accident as a result of someone else not paying attention while on the road, your recovery time could prove to be a long process. Accident litigation is complicated and you want to be in the hands of someone trusted to help you settle your case.
If you do your best to keep your eyes on the road, you’ll minimize your risk of injury and accidents particularly if others are not paying attention.