April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. While texting and driving gets a lot of attention (and for good reason), there are many forms of distracted driving, just as many laws that relate to it and, the good news, plenty of strategies for preventing it. Let’s review, shall we?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorize distracted driving into three forms: visual (taking your eyes off the road), cognitive (letting your mind wander from the task of driving) and manual (taking your hands off the steering wheel). Some of the more common forms of distracted driving are texting while driving, eating while driving, using a navigation system, putting on make-up and daydreaming.
Tennessee bans texting while driving and it is a primary offense, which means a police officer can pull you over and cite you for it without having some other reason such as failing to signal, a broken tail light, speeding, etc. In Tennessee, if the driver is operating the vehicle under a learner’s permit or intermediate license, then all cellphone use is prohibited. Federal law prohibits federal employees like postal employees from texting while driving. Federal law also prohibits any commercial driver from texting and driving. And, if the commercial driver is carrying hazardous material, all cellphone use (texting and talking) is prohibited.
Despite these laws, each year, over three thousand people lose their life because of a distracted driving and over 400,000 people are injured due to distracted driving. So what can you do to prevent distracted driving?
- Set a good example for your teens. Do not engage in distracted driving yourself.
- Use apps which auto-respond if the car is in motion so that you are not tempted to respond.
- If you see a commercial driver using his phone in a prohibited manner, contact the company and alert them to the driver’s conduct. Good companies want to know this information as they do not want negligent drivers on the roadway in their vehicles.
- Have your teen sign a driving contract and pledge about distracted driving. Different versions of these can be found on www.distraction.gov and various insurance company websites.
- If your teen seems upset or preoccupied, drive them yourself.
- Encourage your teen to speak up if he or she is a passenger in a car with a distracted driver.
- Limit the number of people in your teen’s car.
- If you are drowsy, stop, stretch, take a short walk, get some coffee or whatever you need to do to refresh yourself.
- Enforce the rules by revoking cellphone or driving privileges for any violations by your teen.
- Be prepared. Know your route, set your radio, adjust mirrors, etc. before you start driving.
- Secure kids and pets before driving and pull over if you have to help them.
- Remind yourself of the danger. Keeping yourself, your family and others on the roadway safe is priority one.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, we can help. To schedule an no-obligation, no-cost consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers, simply give us a call at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free) or you can also contact us online.