Distracted driving in Arizona can cause major motor vehicle accidents. There are many types of distracted driving habits that drivers should be aware of to avoid distractions. Three categories of distracted driving habits can fall into are visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration* reported that in 2020 over 3,000 people were killed by distracted driving.
The first out of the three categories explained by the CDC is visual distractions. Visual distractions are driving distractions that take the driver’s eyes off the road. Performing activities like texting and driving, checking social media or emails, or any type of cell phone use while driving will take your eyes off the road.
When you pair these actions with a high-speed limit, the likely hood of Arizona car accidents increases. Traveling fast can lead drivers to miss important traffic signals like red lights and stop signs, leading to T-bone crashes or rear-ending another driver.
The age group that typically falls victim to visual distractions is older teen drivers above 18. However, newer cars have Bluetooth connections for a hands-free mode option to help drivers not directly look at their electronic devices while driving, but this can still be dangerous for new drivers. The NSTSA recommends that parents lead by example for their teens as they learn to drive and avoid using their smartphones.
Many states have laws that prohibit texting and driving to lower this kind of distracted driving. In Arizona, apart from other car accident-related laws, the Hands-Off law prohibits drivers from using a cellphone or another electronic device while driving unless it is connected via Bluetooth or another type of hands-free mode.
It is against the law to:
- Hold or support an electronic device with a driver’s body
- Write, send, or read a text message
- Scroll through social media apps, watch or record videos, etc.
Drivers will be allowed to:
- Engage and disengage a function on a GPS route or answer/end a phone call
- Talk using an earpiece, headphones, or smartwatch
- Use a device for navigation like a GPS or smartphone (must be mounted and not handheld)
- Use a device in an emergency situation for assistance or to report a crime
Anytime a driver takes their hands off the wheel to grab their cell phone, food, drink, or change music, these are considered manual distractions. These types of distracted driving habits slow down a driver’s reaction time to instances of animals on the road, sudden braking from other drivers, or other road obstacles.
Similar to the Bluetooth features added in newer vehicles, steering wheels have buttons to change music, answer and end phone calls, and adjust the volume to help keep drivers’ hands on the wheel. Wireless communication devices connected to Bluetooth will be compatible with the steering wheel buttons.
Eating and drinking hand-held items are not safe for drivers even though fast-food restaurants make them easier to consume. It is safer for drivers to wait for stop lights to take a sip of a drink or bite of food since the car is no longer moving. However, it is best to either pull into a parking spot to eat or wait until you reach your destination to enjoy your meal.
Cognitive distractions are anything that takes a driver’s mind off of driving which is difficult to define and are the most dangerous types of distractions when driving. The CDC identifies cognitive distractions as daydreaming, arguing with someone in the car or on the phone, and driving under the influence.
It is not safe to drive when emotions are running high. Being angry, sad, or arguing with someone can lead to poor decision-making and not fully paying attention to your surroundings. The task of driving requires a clear head in order to drive as safely as possible. If you are not paying attention to the road, you can be the cause of an accident or you can miss warning signs of other reckless drivers.
Driving under the influence, whether it is drugs or alcohol, causes major cognitive distractions and lead to more severe Arizona car accidents. Crashes that involve a distracted driver who is driving under the influence will experience slower reaction time. For example, drowsiness can lead to lane swerving and the drivers suffering more severe injuries and causing more severe damage.