You might have fond memories of your youth when you learned to drive. Maybe you took driver safety classes in school, or, perhaps, they didn’t have such classes back in your day. In any event, you no doubt can recall who your instructors were (perhaps a parent, grandparent, older sibling) and the lessons you learned to help you become a skilled and safe driver in Colorado and beyond.
It’s logical to assume that drivers face the possibility of many more types of distractions today than they did long ago. So much has changed. For instance, speed limits were much lower back then. There were less cars on the road overall, and there were not as many commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers. Nowadays, there are three main types of driving distraction that can quickly turn an uneventful road trip into disaster.
Cognitive distractions take your mind off the task at hand
When you’re operating a motor vehicle, you’re obligated to stay focused. Behind the wheel is not the place to replay the argument you had with a loved one the night before or to think about what you need at the grocery store or an upcoming business meeting with your boss. All you should be thinking about is the road in front of you and what other drivers or nearby pedestrians are doing.
As a licensed Colorado driver, you’re obligated to adhere to all traffic laws and safety regulations. You have to pay close attention to changing traffic lights, stop signs and posted speed limits, as well as other signage on the road. If you’re daydreaming or trying to multi-task, you may become cognitively distracted.
Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel
How many times did your driving instructor remind you to keep both hands on the wheel at all times and to keep your eyes on the road? Drivers who are manually or visually distracted place themselves and all others nearby at great risk for injury.
What if you come to a full stop at a stop sign (as you should) but the driver behind you is texting and doesn’t notice that you’ve stopped? You might go from obeying a basic traffic sign to lying in the back of an ambulance with severe whiplash or head injury.
Ways to avoid distracted driving
Distracted driving collisions are typically easily preventable. You can improve your travel safety by not touching your cell phone or other electronic device while you drive. You can also safely exit the roadway to pull over if you want to eat or take a drink, even if it’s water.
Looking at a GPS device is a type of visual distraction as well, so it’s best to review driving directions before you enter the roadway, and to pull off the road if you need to review them again.
If a distracted driver hits you
You may do everything in your power to avoid a collision. The only problem is you can’t do much about another person’s driving behavior. Even if you notice a potential hazard on the road, such as a vehicle that is weaving across a yellow line, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can safely fall back in traffic or make a lane change to distance yourself from the driver in question.
If a distracted driver hits you and you suffer injury, you may have to take time off work in recovery. You might also need physical therapy or, even, surgery, depending on the severity of your injuries. Colorado law allows accident victims to seek financial recovery for their losses when another driver’s negligence is the cause of their injuries.