What is distracted driving and how does it apply to Tennessee drivers?

Distracted riving activities, like texting and driving, endanger the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians every year.

When drivers in Tennessee get behind the wheel of a vehicle, many refrain from picking up their cellphone because they know it is dangerous, but engage in other distracting activities that endanger the lives of other passengers, pedestrians and drivers. By definition, distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver's full attention away from the road, which means texting and driving, talking on the phone, fiddling with the radio, eating or using a navigation system are all dangerous activities.

The types of distracted driving

All distracted driving activities can be divided into three different categories. These include the following:

  • Manual distraction--When drivers remove their hands from the steering wheel, they become manually distracted. For instance, a driver who reaches for his or her cellphone on the back seat of a vehicle is manually distracted.
  • Visual distraction--Drivers who take their eyes away from the road are visually distracted. If, for example, a driver looks at a GPS device instead of the road in front of him or her, visual distraction occurs.
  • Cognitive distraction--When drivers stop focusing on driving, they become cognitively distracted. For instance, a driver who focuses on the conversation he or she is having with a passenger is cognitively distracted.

However, texting and driving is one of the most alarming forms of distracted driving because it is manually, visually and cognitively distracting. Additionally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers who either read or send a text remove their eyes away from the road for an average of five seconds. While driving at 55 mph, this is equivalent to a driver closing his or her eyes while driving the length of a football field.

The law in Tennessee

In Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, it is illegal for drivers to text and drive simultaneously. Despite the existence of this law and laws like it, many drivers continue to endanger the lives of others by engaging in distracting activities behind the wheel. The NHTSA states that in 2015 alone, 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving-related collisions and 3,477 people were killed.

Those who are involved in a distracted driving collision may experience physical, emotional and financial harm, and have a hard time participating in normal daily activities. In this situation, Tennessee drivers should contact an attorney who can help them assert their legal rights to fair and proper compensation.