Distracted driving: A leading cause of vehicle crashes - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Distracted driving: A leading cause of vehicle crashes


If the mention of distracted driving brings to mind someone talking on a cellphone or texting, you would be only partially correct. Distractions include drinking a cup of coffee on your way to work, changing the address on your GPS or any activity that takes your eyes or mental focus away from the road and the task of driving. Distracted driving was the cause of more deaths in vehicle collisions on Ontario roads last year than any other activity, so learning how to avoid driver inattention can go a long way toward keeping you and the passengers in your car safe.

What is distracted driving?

Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the task of driving is a distraction. There are three primary types of distractions:

  • Visual distraction occurring when you are not looking at the road
  • Manual distraction when your hands are removed from the steering wheel
  • Cognitive or mental distraction when your mental focus is on something other than driving

Texting while driving has been identified as a particularly dangerous activity. You are 23 times more likely to have an accident or be involved in a near collision if you are texting while driving compared to drivers refraining from distracting activities.

Effects of distracted driving

A lot can happen in the seconds it takes to look at your cellphone or turn to talk to the passenger sitting next to you when driving. As your car speeds along while your attention is diverted away from the road, you could be unable to react in time to avoid hitting a truck abruptly stopping in front of you. Some of the effects of distracted driving include the following:

  • Reduced reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Injuring yourself and/or other people

If you are one of the many people convinced that you can multitask while driving, you are wrong according to researchers. Talking on your cellphone or engaging in some other distracting activity while driving forces your brain to toggle between the two activities. You might think your brain is focusing on both activities equally, but the dangerous reality is that it is not.

Researchers found a driver talking on a cellphone, even when using a hands-free device, could miss as much as 50 percent of the information the eyes are transmitting to the brain. The reason goes back to the multitasking myth. The driver’s brain only processes half of the visual information because it was also processing the phone conversation.

The research about multitasking illustrates how a legal activity, such as using a hands-free device to talk on your cellphone, could still be dangerous and unsafe. Drivers must use good judgment when operating a car or other motor vehicle.

Penalties for distracted driving

The provincial government in Ontario is cracking down on distracted driving. It is unlawful to drive while using a hand-held communication or entertainment device. Trying to talk your way out of a ticket in Toronto by explaining to the police officer that you were holding your cellphone to listen to music is not going to work because it’s a violation of the law. Proposed legislation would increase fines and other penalties for drivers convicted of distracted driving and careless driving to as much as $50,000.

Trusted advice and representation

A collision caused by a distracted driver could cause you to suffer serious injuries and be entitled to compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims on behalf of victims against negligent drivers. Don’t delay, contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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