Distracted driving is a critical issue that concerns public health and safety, especially as the pervasiveness of brand new communication technology boosts the likelihood of drivers being distracted while they are behind the wheel.
Even though legislators at the local, state, and federal levels are exploring a broad assortment of problems pertaining to driver inattention, the most popular and widespread worry is the inherent distraction that stems from the presence of cell phones and other technological gadgetry routinely found inside vehicles. Roughly 220 million people all across the United States subscribe to some kind of wireless services, and it has been calculated that as much as 80% of those people are using their cell phones while they drive.
The phrase “distracted driving” is inexorably linked to sending and receiving texts or some other form of cell phone use by a car’s driver. There is, however, a multitude of actions that are just as distracting to a driver and just as dangerous as using a cell phone.
Different Kinds of Distracted Driving
Even though distracted driving is most often linked to the use of a cell phone from behind the wheel, distractions can actually mean any activity that restricts a driver’s focus from the job of driving. Distractions fall into one or more of three categories: manual, visual, or cognitive. The more categories a distraction falls under, the more dangerous the behavior is.
There is an abundance of activities a person might engage in that could be considered distracted driving. Listed below are a few commonly-seen examples of actions that qualify as distracted driving:
- Consuming food and/or drink
- Personal grooming/applying make-up
- Engaging in conversation with a passenger
- Fiddling with your stereo, air conditioner, seat controls, etc.
Penalties for Non-Cell Phone Distracted Driving
The majority of state laws dealing with the issue of distracted driving are centered on cell phone usage. It is extremely uncommon for a law to expressly forbid or punish other types of distracted driving. Typically, other kinds of distracted driving will earn you a charge for reckless driving or some other closely-related punishment but they are not deemed a primary offense the way that cell phone use is.
In the state of Alaska, texting while driving is recognized as a primary offense according to state law. This means that Alaska residents may be pulled over by police and cited simply for texting while driving. A driver who has been charged with texting while driving could face possible incarceration and/or a substantial administrative fine. There are, of course, exceptions to the ban on cell phone use behind the wheel, including the use of apps designed for music or navigation. There are no state laws explicitly regarding distracted driving that do not involve the use of a cell phone.
If you or a member of your family has been injured during a car accident in Alaska that was caused by a distracted driver, we encourage you to call (907) 569-6633 and speak with an Anchorage personal injury attorney at the Law Office of Jason Skala. You are entitled by state law to receive full and fair financial compensation for your hospital bills and many other accident-related damages through an Alaska personal injury claim.