The role of mental distraction in vehicle crashes

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Personal Injury |

It is no secret that distraction is a major factor in many vehicle collisions. West Virginia has had a handheld phone use ban in place for drivers since 2012. Yet, that and similar laws across the country have not prevented distraction from continuing to play a major role in crashes.

West Virginia expanded its driver distraction laws last year to include other electronic devices and it also toughened the penalties for being caught doing so. But even that won’t rule out distraction.

A better understanding of mental distraction is crucial

Perhaps the biggest problem, apart from people ignoring the laws, is that people fail to realize just how mentally distracting many of the things they do are. And how much of an effect that can have on road safety. You don’t need to be touching a phone or electronic device for it to distract you.

For example, talking to people in the car is normal. Drivers do it and passengers do it. Yet too much talking, or talking at the wrong point or about the wrong topic, can be a massive distraction.

Passengers need to learn not to ask a driver a question as they approach a busy junction. Drivers need to realize that it is OK to drop out of a conversation mid-sentence to focus on the road. And both need to realize that the car is not the place for a heated discussion.

People must also realize that stopping a conversation won’t necessarily end it right there. Both parties may still be replaying an argument in their heads long after they have ceased to engage with each other. 

If a driver crashes into you, then don’t discount mental distraction as a factor just because they were not on their phone, or their phone log shows they had not used it lately. Mental distraction can occur for so many reasons and exploring whether it did could be crucial to gaining the compensation you need.