With the rise in technology use the past decade, laws are trying to catch up to ensure safety, especially on the road. Distracted driving is an increasingly common cause of motor vehicle accidents. Drivers use their cellphones not only for talking and texting but also for looking up directions and taking photos or videos.
While these incidents receive the most media attention and supporters for change, they are not the only forms of distracted driving. In fact, one of these other three may have been the reason for or cause of injury from another car hitting you.
1. Driving with an unrestrained pet
As of 2018, Michigan does not have an explicit law banning driving with your dog on your lap, though there may be in the future if a 2017 bill passes. Nonetheless, the practice is dangerous for everyone involved, including the animals, for the following reasons:
- Pets are distracting to drivers.
- Unrestrained pets can accidentally hit or change a setting or gadget that would present a hazard.
- Unrestrained pets can fly through a windshield and strike another person in an accident.
- Unrestrained pets can escape through a window.
Drivers should use a carrier or pet seat belt when taking a furry friend with them.
2. Eating and drinking
Eating and drinking behind the wheel is such a norm that you may not know that it falls under distracted driving in Michigan. The truth is anything that takes a driver's hands off the wheel (manual distraction) and eyes off the road (visual distraction) is hazardous. Even changing what music is on can continue to distract the brain for nearly half a minute after the action.
3. Interacting with passengers
Sometimes half the fun of a car trip is being with loved ones. Family and friends can cause problems, however. For example, children or adults may be bickering. In fact, passengers do not even have to be in the car; rumination is enough. The brain focuses on the emotional scenario, producing a cognitive distraction. Even if a driver is physically attentive, the mind is elsewhere and fails to register potential dangers, leading to an accident.