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How distracted driving endangers you and your loved ones

You could be the best, most conscientious and attentive driver in the world, but that still might not save you from being involved in a serious car accident. Why? Because the other driver might be driving distracted.

What does distracted driving mean?

The definition of distracted driving is when a driver is doing literally any other activity while driving that takes his or her attention away from operating the motor vehicle. Even though this term might not apply to you, you may want to familiarize yourself with it, as it can still increase your chance of being involved in a car crash that injures you or your passengers.

What activities count as distracted driving?

The types of distracted driving usually fall into one of three main categories:

  • Manual: This type of distracted driving involves a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel.
  • Visual: When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road for any reason, a visual distraction is occurring.
  • Cognitive: This form of distraction occurs when the driver takes his or her mind off of driving.

You were probably already familiar with the fact that things like texting or making a phone call while driving are dangerous and distracting. But did you know that even something like using a GPS system while operating a motor vehicle counts as distracted driving? Anything the other driver does that takes his or her full attention away from driving can endanger you and your passengers, as well as other drivers and pedestrians.

How dangerous could a few seconds of distracted driving be?

Even if the other driver only takes his or her eyes off the road for just a few seconds, that can be more than enough time for a tragedy to occur when the person is operating a vehicle at high speeds. For example, when a vehicle is driving at 55 mph, the car can travel the length of a football field in just the time it takes to send the average text. That's a lot of distance when someone isn't paying attention, and leads to accident statistics like:

  • In 2013, almost one out of every five car accident injuries involved a distracted driver.
  • Compared to the two years prior, 2013 showed an almost 10 percent increase in motor vehicle crash injuries involving distracted driving.
  • In this same year, a total of 424,000 people suffered injuries and 3,154 people died in distracted driving accidents.

But I always pay attention while I'm driving!

One of the scariest parts is, these injury statistics don't indicate whether the injured person was the one driving while distracted, or whether the distracted driver injured - or killed! -- someone else. For example, you could be doing everything right, but that still might not protect you from the teenage girl who took her hands off the wheel to text her boyfriend and swerved into your lane, or the man eating a sandwich who rear-ended you when he tried to clean the mustard off his tie.

What can I do?

A great way to help prevent accidents is to pay attention 100 percent of the time while you are driving. Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel may even help protect you against others' distracted driving. However, no matter how careful you are, your good driving may not be able to prevent all accidents.

If you or someone you love suffers injuries because of another's distracted driving, a South Carolina attorney with experience in personal injury cases will be able to offer you legal counsel on your rights. Successful personal injury suits can get the funds you need to help cover the medical costs for injuries suffered along with other damages.

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