News & Insights

Distracted Driving and Personal Injuries

Distracted driving has become an epidemic on America’s roadways.  A 2010 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated the role of distracted driving in causing accidents and found that it caused 18% of personal injury and wrongful death cases. The report found that more than 3,092 people died in accidents and 400,016 people suffered a personal injury due to distracted driving.  These alarming statistics make it clear that distracted driving endangers the safety of drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.  There are three primary types of distracted driving; visual, manual, and cognitive.  Here are the top five forms of distracted driving that are most likely to cause accidents or result in personal injuries.

Cell Phone Usage: Texting While Driving and Updating Social Media Cell Phones Causing Car Accidents and Personal Injuries

Cell phones are no doubt the primary culprit of distracted driving.  Texting while driving requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver which makes it the most alarming distraction.  To make matters worse, each time someone responds to the notification bells, they reinforce the distracted behavior like one of Pavlov’s dogs making the habit harder to break. In 2012 it became a secondary offense in Maryland to talk on a cell phone or use other forms of wireless communication devices while driving if they were not “hands free”. A secondary offense meant that police had to have another reason to pull over a driver other than seeing them holding or looking at a phone, but if police also saw the driver using their phone they could issue a ticket for that as well.  A new law that went into effect on October 1, 2013, makes it a primary offense, meaning a police officer can pull over a driver simply for holding or using their phone.

GPS, CDs, iPod, etc.

Manipulating music controls and navigation systems is another form of distracted driving that requires manual and visual attention.  Many electronic devices such as GPSs have disclaimers warning against using them while driving.


Many drivers let their pets sit on their lap while driving.  While animals seem to love catching the breeze out of a car window, this is both a visual and manual distraction for the driver.  Pets allowed free roam of the car can get underfoot near your brake or gas pedal.  It is safer for all parties if drivers secure their pets in a travel carrier or use a partition to limit larger pets to the backseat or trunk.

Grooming: shaving, make-up, etc.

Personal grooming is a manual and visual form of distracted driving. While many cars have vanity mirrors on the visor, applying makeup or shaving while driving not only endangers lives, you risk a traffic violation for reckless driving.  The uneven shave or makeup application is not worth the risk.

Eating and Drinking

Many drivers eat breakfast or have a morning cup of coffee while commuting. Compared to texting while driving, eating doesn’t demand much cognitive attention.  However, it is still a manual distraction.   Furthermore, consider the series of events that could occur after a driver spills scalding coffee in their lap. J. Neil Lanzi, P.A. represents clients who have suffered a personal injury or lost a loved one due to distracted driving.  Cell phones, texting and smart phones may be new technology, but legally they present the same personal injury and distracted driving cases our firm has handled for decades.   Contact us with any questions.

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