When you are driving, do you keep your eyes on the road at all times? You may be tempted to answer yes, but we all take our eyes off the road due to distractions. We’ve talked in the past about the dangers of cell phone use, and the fact that many states have already restricted cell phone use while driving – and don’t even think about texting while driving. All the attention on cell phones has distracted our attention away from an equally threatening culprit – radios, CD players and even iPods.
According to the California Highway Patrol, changing CDs, fiddling with your radio or shuffling through your iPod are the top causes of distracted driving, even ahead of cell phones. Some observers point out that the numbers may be a bit skewed as some drivers use the excuse of radio or CD player use so they won’t have to admit to doing something illegal, such as texting or talking on their cell phone. However, some law enforcement officials request to examine cell phones to determine if they were in use at the time of the accident.
Experts say that taking our eyes off the road while traveling at freeway speed to search radio stations or dial a phone number is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field without ever seeing what is around you. There are many culprits waiting to distract us while driving. Dealing with unruly kids and eating while driving are both in the top five causes of inattentive driver crashes.
The federal government has expanded their fight against driving distractions by pressuring automakers to rethink gadgetry they install in automobiles. Automakers advise they are trying to develop ways to provide useful amenities, but in a safe way. For example, automakers are working on systems that would mute ringers on in-car cell phones if the brake pedal is pressed or the headlights or windshield wipers are activated.
The fascination of all our modern gadgets, the use of which has become almost addictive, must be kept in check to avoid needless accidents and injury. Many jurisdictions are making this kind of distracted driving a valid legal issue that, if proven, can result in a driver’s absolute liability in an accident. It’s not entirely clear how the standard auto policy will evolve to address these new exposures drivers have while behind the wheel, but you can probably count on the fact that changes are on the horizon.
So next time you’re behind the wheel, try to make a conscious effort to focus on the road and your surroundings, and perhaps a bit less on the song on the radio or who’s calling you.