Distracted driving remains a public health concern in our state.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "distracted driving"? If you're like most people, you envision someone looking down and texting, or someone having a conversation while holding their phone. Those types of distracted driving are exceedingly common; research has shown that an estimated 660,000 Americans are using their phones behind the wheel at any time.

People on their phones aren't just texting or talking anymore, though. While texting is still the most popular distraction (and a particularly invasive one, as it involves three distinct levels of distraction: manual, cognitive and physical), other smartphone features have gained popularity in recent years that are proving to be just as hazardous while driving.

Apps, videos and more

According to research performed by AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, 27 percent of drivers polled say that they regularly access social networking apps like Facebook behind the wheel. Another 17 percent say that they take selfies and snapshots while driving, and 33 percent regularly send or receive emails.

Some drivers (12 percent of those surveyed) even reported shooting videos while driving, something many of them are convinced they can continue to do safely.

Other distractions

As distracting as our smartphones are, they aren't the only distractions vying for the attention of drivers today, some of which don't involve technology at all.

  • Eating and drinking - This is something that many of us are guilty of on a regular basis. Looking down at your snack or leaning over to grab your coffee cup can take your eyes off the road and your hand off the wheel, giving you insufficient resources to recover in the event of a sudden hazard or traffic change.
  • Lively conversation - A boisterous conversation with your passengers can be engrossing to the point that your eyes and your focus leave the road ahead. It's particularly hazardous for teen drivers, as they lack experience needed to make last-second corrections necessary to avoid a car accident if they have looked away from traffic and then need to adjust speed, correct course, dodge a hazard, etc.
  • GPS navigation - Whether on your smartphone or on a standalone device, it can be very distracting trying to follow along with GPS directions, particularly if you are reading them instead of listening to them aloud.
  • In-car "infotainment" systems - These systems, integrated into the majority of new vehicles, put a whole world of technology at our fingertips, making it possible to send and receive emails, listen to mp3 music, stream live internet, download audiobooks for the journey and more. All of these activities are distracting, though, and should only be done when the car is stopped. Even so, 53 percent of drivers surveyed assume the systems are safe since auto manufacturers installed them.

A crash caused by a distracted driver - regardless of the type of distraction involved - can be devastating, resulting in serious injuries or even fatalities. A skilled personal injury lawyer like those at Cranwell & Moore, P.L.C., can help car accident victims seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. You can contact the firm by calling toll free at 888-635-6304, locally at 540-904-1621, or by sending them an email to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.