Pennsylvania drivers at risk of many distractions

If you could avoid a serious accident that injures you, your family members or others on the road, wouldn't you do everything in your power to prevent its occurrence? As it turns out, when distracted driving is the cause of an accident, in most cases, drivers have that ability.

To really drive this point home, consider that by some estimates, a quarter of all traffic deaths are related to driver distractions. While cellphone usage is a frequent culprit, by far the biggest source of distraction for motorists is their own thoughts.

Get your head out of the clouds

Woolgathering behind the wheel is by far responsible for the most distractions for drivers. Being lost in thought while tooling down the road accounts for an astounding 62 percent of driving fatalities.

It's also likely the hardest to prevent, as who among us has never had our minds wander while driving? But drivers who know and understand the danger can make conscious efforts to keep their minds on the road and the task at hand — safe driving.

Which other activities distract motorists?

Rubbernecking at accidents, reading billboards and looking at people and objects outside of the car is responsible for 7 percent of drivers' distractions, after cellphone usage at 12 percent.

As it turns out, simply riding and interacting with others in the vehicle causes 5 percent of collisions for distracted motorists. This definitely includes parents at the wheel turning around to hand a youngster a drink, food or pacifier, or attempting to restore order between squabbling siblings.

Further distractions include loose pets or even bugs in the car, smoking, operating vehicle controls and GPS features, attempting to reach dropped items and eating or drinking while driving.

The fact that you may have accomplished one or all of the above in the past without any problems does nothing to negate the inherent danger of these activities when you're driving. You simply cannot predict the outcome and must take all precautions to avoid an accident every time you drive.

Consequences of a distracted-driving accident

You can total your car and suffer life-changing injuries that require extensive treatment and rehabilitation — all of which is prohibitively expensive. Meanwhile, you won't be able to work while you recuperate, so your bills will mount.

Those who have suffered injuries in an accident with a distracted driver may choose to hold that driver accountable for their injuries and financial damages.

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