With the ever-increasing availability of technology, it’s no surprise that distracted driving is on the rise. From texting and emailing to using social media and GPS, there are many ways drivers can be distracted behind the wheel.
And while technologies like hands-free calling have made it easier to stay connected while on the road, studies show that even these devices can be distracting. So what do you need to know about distracted driving? Keep reading to find out.
What is distracted driving, and why is it dangerous
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. It increases the risk of crashing by three times and is considered one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents.
Texting and talking on cell phones, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using navigation systems, and programming a radio are all activities that can distract drivers—each year, distracted driving costs innocent lives and damages property.
Common Distractions in Distracted Driving Accidents
- eating and drinking;
- texting or talking on cell phones;
- talking to passengers;
- grooming, putting on makeup;
- watching videos;
- using navigation systems such as GPS;
- conversations with other passengers,
- and programming a radio.
As a society, it is important to understand the risks associated with distracted driving and advocate for stricter laws that forbid it or at least appropriately punish those who practice it.
The different types of distractions that can occur while driving
Distractions while driving can come in many forms and have the potential to be very dangerous. Such distractions can include:
- Anything from eating or drinking behind the wheel.
- Fiddling with the car radio.
- Having heated conversations with passengers.
- Texting on the phone.
- Even applying makeup while driving.
As these distractions take away one’s focus from being attentive to the road, they increase one’s likelihood of becoming an accident statistic due to needing to pay more attention to what is happening around them.
Therefore, drivers need to remain aware of their surroundings at all times and avoid any actions that could draw away their focus from driving safely.
How to avoid being distracted while driving
While driving, it can be difficult to focus on the task of getting from point A to point B in a safe and timely manner, with so many distractions competing for our attention – phones, radio, GPS systems, and billboards among them – staying focused while behind the wheel is becoming increasingly challenging.
The key to success is proactive planning: turning off your phone before you hop into the car, setting any pertinent navigation details before you start driving, limiting conversations within the car, and even banning eating while driving should be part of your routine.
Moreover, if you find your focus waning while driving, pull over and take a few minutes to collect yourself. To reach our destination safely, we must drive distraction-free.
Distracted Driving Statistics in New Mexico
Distracted driving is a serious problem in New Mexico, with an estimated 513 people killed and 14,186 injured due to distracted drivers between the years 2011-2015.
According to the most recent statistics from 2018, there were 3,482 crashes involving distraction as a contributing factor. Of these crashes, 1,491 involved cell phone use, and 1,010 involved passengers.
The number of fatalities related to distracted driving in New Mexico has been on a steady increase since 2011, but the Department of Transportation is working hard to reduce these numbers through public campaigns and stricter laws about cell phone use while driving.
In 2018, the state passed a law banning texting while driving and is currently working on a bill that would make it illegal to hold a cell phone while behind the wheel.
New Mexico Law and Distracted Driving
The state of New Mexico takes distracted driving very seriously and has enacted laws to address those who break this important rule.
Currently prohibited by New Mexico State
typing on a mobile device –
- no texting while driving;
- reading emails,
- text messages,
- or websites on a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle;
- watching videos on a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle;
- holding or touching any other electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle.
The current law does permit hands-free calling with certain devices, but it is important to remember that any action which takes your eyes off the road or your attention away from driving is considered distracted driving and can be punished accordingly.
In addition to the state law, these cities also have their own set of fines and punishments for breaking distracted driving laws.
Note* Some cities have passed their city ordinances to combat the use of cell phones while driving, so be sure to check with your local municipality before operating a motor vehicle.
The following cities have made hand-held cell phone use illegal for all drivers:
Exceptions to the Distracted Driving Laws in New Mexico
There are some exceptions to distracted driving laws in New Mexico, including:
- emergency personnel on official business;
- drivers using two-way radios to communicate with dispatch or other personnel for work purposes;
- drivers using cell phones, electronic devices, or other communication devices in a hands-free mode (including Bluetooth);
- drivers using voice command features of their mobile device;
- drivers using GPS navigation;
- touch panels integrated into the vehicle’s functions;
What to do if you are in an accident caused by a distracted driver
If you find that you are a victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver, the first thing you should do is make sure you are okay and seek medical attention if necessary. After that, it is important to collect evidence at the scene of the crash.
Take pictures of the damage to both vehicles and get contact information from everyone involved. Depending on the specifics of the incident, it may also be beneficial to call law enforcement to report the crash. Once everything is documented, making a claim with your insurance company might be necessary.
It is important to stay as informed as possible throughout this entire process and make sure to keep track of all documentation related to your case. Even though being in an accident caused by a distracted driver is potentially dangerous and stressful – with careful steps taken along the way, you can help ensure justice is served.
Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. By understanding the different types of distractions and how to avoid them, you can help make our roads safer for everyone.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, please contact us. We are here to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Distracted Driving Fines in New Mexico
The fines for distracted driving in New Mexico are as follows:
- First Offense $25
- Second Offense: $50
* If you get busted for distracted driving and are a professional driver, your license may be revoked permanently – denying you the ability to drive commercially for life.
Note: city fines may add to the state fine and compound
The takeaway: Don’t Drive Distracted!
Distracted driving remains a serious problem in the United States, causing thousands of injuries and fatalities each year. By understanding what distracted driving is and how to avoid it, we can make a difference in reducing the number of accidents and injuries caused by it.
By proactively planning our trips and avoiding any action that could divert our attention away from the road, we can ensure that all passengers and other drivers remain safe on the roads.
Be sure to follow both state and federal laws when it comes to distracted driving, and always keep your attention on the road. Remember, don’t drive distracted!
With more awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, we can work together to promote a safer society for all drivers.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving – turn to one of the best car accident attorneys in Albuquerque by calling Goldberg & Loren at (505) 317-5813 or fill out the form for a free consultation from an experienced automobile accident lawyer.
2014 New Mexico Statutes :: Chapter 66 – Motor Vehicles :: Section 7 :: Traffic Laws; Signs, Signals and Markings; Accidents; Weight and Size; Traffic Safety :: Section 4 :: TRAFFIC LAWS GENERALLY :: Section 66-7-374 :: Texting while driving. (n.d.). Justia Law. https://law.justia.com/codes/new-mexico/2014/chapter-66/article-7/part-4/section-66-7-374