Could Distracted Driving Accidents Increase Due to the Coronavirus?

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Distracted driving is a leading cause of serious car accidents every year. This form of negligence on the roads leads to many injuries and deaths as a result. Distracted driving can come in many forms, but you might not expect the novel coronavirus to be one. However, the panic and uncertainty many feel right now may directly influence reckless driving behaviors. Below, a Dallas car wreck attorney discusses common causes of distracted driving accidents.

What Counts As Distracted Driving in Texas?

First, it is important to accurately define the term “distracted driving.” Distracted driving is any activity a driver engages in that takes his or her eyes or attention off the road. There are four types of distractions that most often cause distracted driving accidents:

  • Visual distractions. Visual distractions are anything a driver sees which takes his or her eyes or attention away from the road for a significant amount of time. Examples may include billboards or pedestrians, among others.
  • Auditory distractions. Auditory distractions consist of any sounds which divert a driver’s attention away from driving. This may include listening to the radio or talking to passengers.
  • Manual distractions. Manual distractions are any actions a driver takes that do not directly involve driving the vehicle. Examples may include texting, eating or fiddling with the radio.
  • Cognitive distractions. Cognitive distractions take a driver’s mind away from the road. This can include preoccupied thoughts or driving under the influence.

Each of these types of distractions may draw a driver’s attention away from the road for a significant amount of time. When a driver is not paying close attention to his or her surroundings, then he or she is more likely to cause an accident. In fact, one-in-five car accidents in Texas are due to distracted driving.

Is the Coronavirus Causing Distracted Driving Accidents?

One of the most prevalent forms of distracted driving is due to cell phone use. This is because use of a cell phone while driving is not only a visual distraction, but it is also a manual and cognitive distraction as well. For starters, cell phones require taking one’s eyes off the road to see the screen. They also require holding the phone and manually pressing buttons or scrolling to view content. Lastly, the content displayed on the screen takes one’s mind off of their immediate surroundings.

Given all of this, it is possible that the coronavirus will cause an increase in distracted driving accidents. As daily updates on COVID-19 come out, drivers receive notifications on their cell phones. The uncertainty and sense of panic that many feel about the coronavirus may prompt drivers to check these updates, even while operating a motor vehicle. However, Texas cell phone law prohibits this and other behaviors, including:

  • Sending or receiving text messages
  • Sending or reading emails while driving
  • Communicating through video chat while driving
  • Using handheld cell phones within six months of driving with a learner’s permit
  • Using a wireless communication device if a driver is under 18 years of age
  • Using a cell phone as a school bus driver if children are present
  • Using a handheld device while driving in a school zone

Injured in a Car Accident? Discuss Your Legal Options With a Dallas Car Wreck Attorney

Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents are extremely common. This does not mean, however, that they are excusable. If a driver engages in distracted driving and causes an accident, then this is a form of negligence. As such, this person may be legally liable for any injuries that arise as a result of the accident. If you sustained injuries in a distracted driving incident, then contact our offices today at (214) 883-1700 to schedule a free consultation.

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