How Do I Spot a Distracted Driver?

Despite the ongoing efforts to discourage drivers from engaging in distracted driving, far too many motorists do not think twice before making a phone call, reading a text, reaching for something in the back seat, or programming the navigation system while driving. Even if you make every effort to avoid distractions while driving, you cannot control other motorists’ behaviors. On any given day, you may see other drivers talking on the phone or sending texts when they should be paying attention to the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, there were 3,142 fatal distracted driving car accidents. If you know how to spot a distracted driver, you can take proactive steps to prevent a serious accident.

Certain types of unsafe driving behaviors are easy to spot. For example, you know a driver is speeding if the car whizzes past you and you are driving the speed limit. Tailgating is also easy to spot. Distracted driving is not always obvious at first. However, if you know some of the common signs to look for, you can take steps to avoid an accident. The following are behaviors that may indicate distracted driving:

  • Driving too fast or slow: Motorists who are distracted by a phone may not be paying enough attention to their speed and whether they are staying within the flow of traffic.
  • Unexpected speed changes: Slowing down or speeding up intermittently are also signs of distracted driving.
  • Weaving in and out of lanes: When a motorist is distracted, they are more likely to drift out of the lane.
  • Longer stops: When stopped at a red light, a distracted driver may not react promptly when the light turns green.
  • Running a red light or stop sign: Drivers who are particularly distracted may not notice that a traffic light has turned red or that they drove right through a stop sign. If another vehicle is coming from the other direction when the distracted driver runs a red light, this can cause a very serious car accident.
  • Seeing the driver’s eyes focused on something other than the road: If a motorist is looking down at their phone, this is an obvious example of distracted driving.

What Should I Do if I See a Distracted Driver?

If another motorist is showing any of the common signs of distracted driving, you are strongly urged to keep your distance and assume that the other driver does not see you. While you may be tempted to get their attention by pulling up next to the distracted driver’s car, it is not a good idea to engage with the other motorist.

If it appears that the driver’s behavior is particularly erratic or is endangering the lives of other motorists on the road, pull over to a safe spot and call 911 to report the driver. Take note of the license plate number, or if there is another passenger in your car, have them take a picture of the license plate or write it down on a piece of paper so that you can provide that information to dispatch.

How Serious Is Distracted Driving in Georgia?

Each year, there are approximately 344,000 car accidents in Georgia, most of which are distracted driving accidents that could have been prevented if the motorists were focusing on the road. The following statistics highlight how serious this problem is in Georgia:

  • Within the first three months after instituting the hand-free cell phone requirement, police officers wrote over 8,000 citations for using handheld devices and over 7,000 more citations in the three months that followed.
  • According to a study by TrueMotion, prior to Georgia’s hands-free law, motorists texted or used apps close to 20 percent of the time that they were driving.
  • Shortly after the law was passed, the incidence of talking on the phone while driving dropped by over 20 percent to 15.4 percent of total driving time.
  • A Constitution survey found that 45 percent of respondents said that they always obey the distracted driving law, and 40 percent said that they obeyed the law most of the time.

What Are the Three Categories of Distracted Driving?

The NHTSA defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a motor’s attention away from the road. There are three categories of distracted driving:

  • Manual distractions: These are distractions that cause you to take one or both hands off the steering wheel. Examples of this type of distraction include eating, adjusting the radio or the temperature in the car, or reaching for something in your purse or in the back seat.
  • Visual distractions: These are distractions that cause you to look away from the road. Common examples include reading or sending a text message, making a phone call, or programming the vehicle’s navigation system.
  • Cognitive distractions: While these distractions do not involve taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road, they do cause your attention to drift off of the task of driving. Using a hands-free device, listening to the radio, or daydreaming are all examples of cognitive distractions.

What If I am Injured in a Distracted Driving Car Accident?

All motorists have a responsibility to make safety a top priority when they are behind the wheel. If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim.

In order to reach a successful outcome, you will need to prove that the other driver was distracted. Unlike drunk driving, distracted driving is more difficult to prove because there is no test to determine whether the motorist was distracted at the time of the accident. However, a skilled car accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation, including obtaining copies of police reports, witness testimonies, and hiring an accident reconstructionist if necessary to demonstrate the other motorist’s unsafe driving behavior at the time of the crash. If you are able to take a picture of the accident scene, this also provides valuable evidence that can be used to help your case.

What Can I Do to Prevent Distracted Driving?

While you cannot control how other people drive, you can take proactive steps to avoid common distractions and keep your attention focused on the road. The following tips can help you avoid a distracted driving accident:

  • Put the phone away. If your phone is within reach, you may be tempted to answer a call or read a text message while you are driving. Your phone should only be used for emergencies, so it should be put away either in your purse or in the glove compartment. If you must make or accept a call, pull over to a safe spot. Even hands-free devices can be distracting.
  • Limit the number of passengers in the car. This is particularly true for newly licensed drivers who are more easily distracted when there are more people in the car.
  • Do not eat while driving. Oftentimes, people do not realize how distracting it is to eat while driving. However, since you are holding your food with one hand, eating is a manual distraction, and if you are looking down at your food before taking a bite, this is a visual distraction.
  • Avoid multitasking while driving. Even if you spend a significant amount of time in your car, you should not use that as an excuse to make phone calls, send or read text messages, or check social media. Take care of important business before you start driving and keep your attention focused on the road and the other motorists in the vicinity.

Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Motorists Injured in Distracted Driving Accidents

If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, do not hesitate to contact one of our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. These accidents are largely preventable if motorists keep their attention focused on the road. However, too many motorists are easily distracted. Our skilled legal team will determine who is responsible for your accident. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.