You've heard it over and over again: Distracted driving kills. It causes accidents and takes lives every day. The news all across New Jersey is filled with the names of people who lost their lives or suffered serious injuries because someone else got distracted behind the wheel.
But what are these distractions, exactly? What types of behavior should you avoid or watch out for in others? A few key examples include:
1. Talking with passengers
The cliche here is a teenager with a car packed full of other teenagers, all of them laughing and carrying on when the driver should stay focused on the road. However, the reality is that anyone can get distracted by passengers, from a businessman who turns to talk to a coworker during their morning commute to a parent who tries to get the kids to stop fighting on the way to school.
2. Texting and driving
This is perhaps the No. 1 most common example of distracted driving, to the point that the two are nearly synonymous. Using a cellphone in the car, in any fashion, can turn deadly. Using it to text is most dangerous because the driver actively lets go of the wheel and looks away from the road at the same time.
3. Getting lost in thought
Have you ever felt your mind wander at school or at work and then suddenly realized that you have no idea what anyone said for the last five minutes? It happens when you're bored. When you're sitting at a desk, it's not a problem. When you're behind the wheel, it can cause an accident. People who "zone out" while they drive put everyone in danger.
4. Getting lost in the music
Similarly, you can get so focused on the music that you're listening to -- especially when it's a song you love -- that you stop really paying attention to the road. Again, it's often a product of boredom. But there's also something especially engaging about music that you connect with that distracts you from driving.
5. Using the interior controls
Cars have numerous controls you can use while you drive. Turning on the heat or the AC. Turning on the radio or changing the station. Adjusting the mirrors when you can't see the blind spots. Turning on the heated seats. Entering a new destination in the GPS. These are just a few examples, but they all pull attention away from the road.
After the crash
So, what happens if you get hit by a distracted driver? Avoiding distractions yourself does not mean avoiding accidents. Make sure you know how to seek financial compensation for your injuries.