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Can I Get a Ticket for Changing the Music on My Smartphone While Driving?

In Texas, state law provides law enforcement officials with a lot of discretion when it comes to ticketing distracted drivers. If you are changing the music on your smartphone, and that action results in aberrant behavior, you can be ticketed with distracted driving and unsafe driving.

What Counts as Distracted Driving?

While most people tend to associate distracted driving with talking or texting on a cell phone, distracted driving is actually a very broad term that covers a number of behaviors. Typically, these behaviors fall into three catagories.

  • Visual — taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing

While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, actions texting, emailing, or selecting a song on your smartphone or iPod are the most alarming because they involve all three types of distraction.

However, research has indicated that even the use of hands-free phone conversations can cause drivers to miss visual and audio cues that could help them avoid a wreck.

The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) estimated that at a typical daylight moment in 2014, there were 587,632 passenger vehicles driven by people using hand-held cell phones.

Distracted Driving and the Myth of Multitasking?

One of the big problems with driver distraction is everybody thinks they are somehow immune to the distraction in front of them – that is, they believe by being aware that their behavior is classified as distracted driving, they can focus on multitasking and therefore have mitigated the danger. This is not true.

In reality, human brain does not have the ability to do two things at the same time, but the brain can handle multiple tasks sequentially – this means that your brain is not doing two things at the same time, but it is quickly switching back and forth between one task and another. The brain’s ability to quickly switch back and forth between tasks just means that the brain is really only performing one task at a time.

Switching back and forth between multiple tasks can lead people to experience “inattention blindness,” which causes peoples’ brains to shift focus – this means that while drivers may “look” at a red light, they may not “see” the red light. Not only does attempting to do multiple tasks at the same time cause people to experience inattention blindness, it may also cause them to have much slower reaction times.

How Big of a Problem Is Distracted Driving?

  • In 2015, there were 3,196 fatal motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver
    • 3,477 people were killed in those wrecks
  • An estimated 391,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2014
  • Distracted driving is a factor in 10 percent of all fatal motor vehicle wrecks and 15 percent of all motor vehicle accident injuries
  • In 2014, there were 551 non-occupants killed in distraction-affected crashes
  • 322 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver between the age of 15 and 19
  • The average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds
    • At 55 mph, this is enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded

What are the Most Deadly Distractions?

Most experts agree that the ten most deadly driving distractions are:

  • Smoking-related activities – putting ashes in the tray, smoking, lighting a cigarette.
  • Moving objects within the vehicle like pets or other animals.
  • Using or adjusting other devices that are essential to the operation of the vehicle, like mirrors.
  • Adjusting the radio or temperature controls.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • Using or reaching for another device that was brought into the vehicle like GPS navigation or headphones.
  • Other passengers in the vehicle can be distracting.
  • Another event that happens outside the vehicle – looking at emergency crews responding to an accident.
  • Using the cell phone while driving – texting, talking, dialing, and listening.
  • Being lost in thought – some people may feel as though they are “lost in thought” or daydreaming. Daydreaming while driving can prove to be fatal since your attention is taking away from your primary task of driving.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident

If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident due to the actions of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced auto accident lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim. We can meet you wherever you reside, whether it be at home, at your workplace, or in the hospital. Contact us today for a free case review.

Contact Us for a Free Case Review


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