You know how it is: as usual, you’re running late for work. You think, “I’ll make those calls on the road to save time.” So you pick up your phone and start dialing. Or maybe you’re running late and decide to text your boss to let her know. Makes sense, right? In our busy schedules, any way to cut corners and save time is a big help.
Unfortunately, your time-saving strategy is actually a form of “distracted driving,” an illegal activity that can not only earn you a traffic ticket, but it can also cause serious damage to people and property. The car stops being a mode of transportation and becomes a death trap when drivers take their eyes off the road and their mind off driving. Multi-tasking is not a requirement for the driver position.
The sad reality is that distracted driving could cost you everything, including your freedom. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2011 alone, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.”
Different Kinds of Distracted Driving
Most of us probably engage in distracted driving without realizing it, primarily because we don’t know the different forms that distracted driving can take. Traffic ticket attorneys often have to explain to their clients that there are many forms of distracted driving:
- Talking and texting on a cell phone are the most well-known forms of distracted driving.
- Conversation with your passengers makes a good time even better, but if you’re doing it to the extent that you’re not paying too much attention to the road, you are too distracted to drive.
- Using your GPS to locate an address, and reading the map on the screen while driving is another kind of distracted driving.
- Reprimanding or trying to control misbehaving children in the car is a huge distraction from your need to focus on the road.
- While everyone loves a great song, rocking out to the music while driving can sufficiently distract you from the task at hand and lead to accidents.
- Putting on make-up, brushing your hair, and other grooming activities are all dangerous distractions.
- Sight-seeing is fun, but you need to keep your eye on the road or you might end up in that beautiful canyon that you can’t take your eyes off.
- Eating in the car is a regular part of most people’s lives, but it can take your focus away from the road.
- Alcohol and drugs, even prescribed medications, can rob you of your concentration and cause accidents.
The Repercussions of Distracted Driving
In many states, distracted driving has rapidly become one of the most frequent reasons drivers get pulled over and issued traffic tickets. Law enforcement agencies take distracted driving so seriously that there can be severe criminal repercussions and stiff fines. For example, many states ban cell phone use for new drivers, and 12 states ban the use of any hand-held devices while driving. If you are caught breaking these laws, you may get a ticket, but you may also earn stiff penalties and fines along with that ticket. In New York, fines for a first offense can be as high as $400. If you get even a few of these tickets, they can add up and create significant complications for you, including loss of license.
A traffic ticket attorney can help you get through this situation, but the best solution is to minimize your distractions while driving. Turn off the phone and put it away, give the kids something to play with or watch so that they’ll be occupied and won’t bother you, refrain from eating or getting too interested in the scenery etc. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can handle doing multiple things at the same time. It’s too costly a mistake.
About the Author Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.