Dangerous distractions not limited to texting and driving

There are many ways a driver may become distracted and cause an accident. Texting and driving is common, but so are other types of distractions.

A great deal of attention has been given to distracted driving in recent years, and for good reason. With the overwhelming prevalence of cellphones and electronic devices, texting while driving has become a national epidemic. On a regular basis, Pennsylvania residents may read about yet another deadly accident involving someone who was preoccupied with his or her phone at the time of the crash.

According to Distraction.gov, 424,000 people were injured and 3,154 were killed in accidents attributed to distracted drivers in 2013. There has been an increase in recent years in crashes caused by a number of distraction factors.

Different types of distractions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify driver distraction into three forms, which include:

• Visual distraction - any activity that takes a driver's eyes off the road

• Manual distraction - an action that removes a driver's hands from the wheel or feet from the pedals, or otherwise involves a part of the body that is needed for driving

• Cognitive distraction - a form of distraction that takes a driver's mind off of driving

Texting and driving is particularly dangerous because it involves all three of the above distractions. However, it is by no means the only way a person can be distracted behind the wheel. A driver's attention may be taken off the road, for example, by eating, talking on the phone, interacting with passengers, adjusting the radio or using a GPS navigation device. Some people are even distracted by applying makeup, reading or watching a video while driving.

Truck driver chokes on soda, crashes

One recent event provided an example of how a car crash may result from seemingly innocent actions. The NY Daily News reported that last September in Hermitage, the driver of a milk tanker truck started choking on his soda, then lost control and drove off the highway and into the lot of a car dealership. Reportedly, he smashed into 23 new vehicles before crashing into the dealership building, pushing one car into the showroom. During the investigation, police determined he had driven almost 600 feet through a grassy space with no indication of braking. The driver received a careless driving citation.

Fortunately, no one was injured in this accident, although with a vehicle as large as a commercial truck, it could have easily turned tragic. Distracted driving accidents in Pennsylvania and across the country frequently result in serious, life-threatening injuries. If you or a loved one was impacted in a crash, you may be eligible for compensation if another driver was determined to be negligent. You may wish to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury.