What constitutes distracted driving? Most states ban reckless driving and have the power to give speeding tickets for traveling at a rate of speed too fast for the conditions. Texting while driving is now banned in 44 states. But what other behaviors represent a dangerous level of distraction? Are police citing drivers who are distracted by something other than a text message? Some law enforcement agencies have taken to penalizing drivers for a wider range of distracted driving than is mentioned in texting bans.
The severity of the problem faced by law enforcement officers was punctuated by a study reported in Forbes. In 2013, they reported that more than 60 percent of deadly distracted driving crashes were caused by drivers who were daydreaming. Imagine ticketing someone for daydreaming. Until an accident has occurred, it is virtually impossible to issue a citation for some forms of distracted driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that drivers are distracted from the task of driving nearly one-third of the time. Cell phones have certainly contributed to the problem, but they don’t account for the majority of situations in which a driver is failing to pay attention to the road. For years, people have been decrying the short attention spans demonstrated by their fellow Americans. Whether those complaints are valid or not, it is clear that people need to do more to stay focused while driving.
Distracted driving laws are one way to encourage drivers to pay attention, but they are not enough. More energy, focus and training needs to go into making sure people are driving safely. Whether you are eating a cheeseburger or checking your email, any action that is taking your mind off the act of driving your vehicle could cost you and others their life.
Source: Yahoo, “Distracted-while-eating citation: Have distracted-driving laws gone too far?,” by Samantha Laine, 20 January 2015