What is Distracted Driving?

Jerry Bowman, Owner and Managing Attorney

Car Accidents
October 12, 2022
What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention from driving. According to the
National Highway Safety Association, distracted driving accidents resulted in the deaths of 3,142
people in 2020.

Examples of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving accidents occur when drivers are engaging in any activity other than driving.
Some common examples include texting, eating and drinking, talking to a passenger, and even
changing the radio station or other settings while operating a motor vehicle. One study by the
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that nearly 80% of car accidents involve some form
of driver inattention, with the most common issue being cell phone usage. In another study by
the University of Utah, the authors concluded that talking on a cellphone while driving was as
dangerous as driving drunk.

There are three main types of distracted driving accidents:

  • Visual Distractions: this is when drivers take their eyes off of the road.
  • Manual Distractions: this is when drivers take their hands off of the wheel.
  • Cognitive Distractions: This is when drivers are thinking about something other than driving.

It is important to note these distractions are not static. A person can easily move from one kind
of distraction into another. For instance, when a driver remembers details of a conversation from
earlier in the day and proceeds to pick of their phone to send a text, they are distracted visually,
manually, and cognitively.

Drivers have one primary responsibility: Driving. They should never multitask but should be
focused on the road for their own safety and the safety of others. Passengers can help reduce the
frequency of accidents by offering to take over when a driver is distracted or by simply asking
the driver to focus on the road.

Distracted Driving Accidents in Colorado

Any non-driving activity is a potential distraction and increases the risk of a car accident because
it reduces the ability to recognize changing driving conditions, such as a car changing lanes,
traffic stopping, or a pedestrian entering a crosswalk. Unfortunately, people falsely believe they
can mitigate the dangers of driving distracted. For example, according to an NSC poll, 80% of
respondents said they believe hands-free devices are safer than handheld devices and 53% said
they believe voice control features are safe. This is because, even when hands-free devices are
used, drivers only see 50% of their driving environment. This phenomenon is called “inattention
blindness” and can lead to drivers missing items such as stop signs and pedestrians. The statistics
clearly show that driving distracted, no matter how it is done, is dangerous and it leads to

The impact of distraction on driving is determined not just by the type of distraction discussed
above, but also the frequency and duration of the task taking the drivers focus off the road. For
instance, even if a task is less distracting, a driver who frequently engages in the distraction or
who engages in the distraction for long periods of time will increase the crash risk. Whereas a
task that is very distracting but done for a short period of time will immediately increase one’s
crash risk.

Are Distracted Driving Accidents More Prevalent Among the Youth?

Young drivers are particularly at risk because they lack the experience and hours behind the
wheel. They are not as familiar with the controls of the vehicle or the rules of the road.
Moreover, young drivers are more likely to remain distracted for longer periods of time,
especially with the increased use of social media.

At the same time, it is also true that older drivers may develop a false sense of confidence
because they have more miles of the road. This, in turn, may result in older drivers believing they
are more proficient at distracted driving, which is simply not the case. Driving safely requires
complex coordination of several executive functions, like selective attention and working
memory, which tend to decline with age. Cognitive decline can reduce a driver’s ability to safely
switch their attention between tasks, increasing the risk of car accidents.

The point is, driving distracted can never be done safely, no matter a person’s experience level.
Driving conditions can change too quickly for multitasking to be done effectively.

What can Parents do to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents in Colorado?

If you or your children are frequently driving distracted, a helpful tool can be to download a cell
phone blocker, including the following:

  • LifeSaver: Lifesaver is a free app that disables phone features while the car is in motion, such as using email or accessing the camera.
  • Drivesafe: is a free app that blocks all calls and texts; however, if you’re called three times in a row, the app will allow a call to go through, so you don’t miss important news or an emergency.
  • It Can Wait: is a free app that is a virtual reality simulation app that shows you the firsthand dangers of using your phone while driving.
  • CellControl: is an app that disables your phone while your car is in motion, and it tracks mileage and monitors your activities behind the wheel.
  • True Motion Family: This app tracks your activity while driving and it gives you a trip score each time you drive to evaluate your overall driving performance.
  • Mama Bear: This is an app for parents who want to keep an eye on their children while they are driving. It uses GPS tracking and sends notifications to parents when their kids are leaving or when they arrive at their intended location.
  • OneTap: this free app blocks incoming calls and texts and automatically informs the sender that you’re unavailable to talk.

It is also important that parents model their behavior for their children. When impressionable
children see their parents texting and driving, it is far more likely they will pick up on similar
habits in the future. Parents can also talk to their children about the rules and responsibilities of
driving. They can share stories and statistics related to harmful or fatal consequences of
distracted driving. Finally, they can set consequences for their children if they are driving

Drivers must remember to remain focused on the road and always be prepared to suddenly stop,
change lanes, or go around obstacles in the road. All drivers must be ready to react quickly and
efficiently. The bottom line is that distracted driving is not a skill that one can master with
practice. Therefore, all distractions that draw our eyes from the road are potentially dangerous
and ought to be avoided to prevent accidents.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Distracted Driving Accidents in Colorado

If you or a loved one have been hurt in an auto versus pedestrian accident, please contact us
today by calling 720-863-6904 or emailing us for a free consultation. Our lawyers handle a wide
range of personal injury cases, including Motor Vehicle AccidentsBicycle
Pedestrian AccidentsSlip & Fall Accidents, and Dog Bites & Attacks. We service
Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Commerce City, Lakewood, Littleton, Thornton,
Westminster, Wheat Ridge, and other parts of metropolitan Denver, Colorado.