Distracted driving is a national problem, with 3,000 people dying and 400,000 people sustaining injuries in crashes involving distracted drivers every year in the United States.
When many people think of distracted driving, they often picture texting while driving. However, distracted driving can be much more insidious. Below, we discuss the various forms of distracted driving and what the Land of Enchantment has done to curtail this dangerous phenomenon.
What’s Considered Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any task that takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving can divert all three forms of a driver’s attention. These include:
- Visual: Taking a driver’s eyes off the road
- Manual: Taking a driver’s hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: Taking a driver’s mind off the task of driving
Anything that diverts one or all three forms of attention can constitute distracted driving. Examples of distracted driving include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Talking on the phone
- Listening to loud music
- Talking with passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Performing personal grooming
- Managing children or pets
The reason why texting and driving is so notorious is that it diverts all three forms of a driver’s attention at the same time. According to the CDC, sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, this is essentially the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded!
Who Is More At Risk of Distracted Driving?
While drivers of all ages can fall victim to distracted driving, the risk is more pronounced among younger drivers. In 2018, 25% of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were young adults aged 20-29. Additionally, in 2019, 39% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days admitted to texting or emailing while driving on at least one of those days. High school students are in the age group most likely to be distracted when compared to drivers of every other age group.
New Mexico Distracted Driving Laws
States across the country have implemented their own solutions in response to distracted driving. Some states, like California, do not allow any form of handheld cell phone use, and only allow such devices to be used via voice commands while mounted in an approved position on the dashboard or windshield. Other states, like Montana, have no distracted driving regulations at all.
In New Mexico, the distracted driving laws are as follows:
- No ban on handheld devices.
- No ban on talking on the phone among all licensed drivers.
- Total ban on cell phone use among drivers with learner or provisional licenses.
- Total ban on text messaging for all drivers.
New Mexico enforces laws similar to many other states in the country that do not ban verbal communication on a phone, but completely ban written communication on a phone due to it requiring drivers to look away from the road.
However, there are certain exceptions to these laws in the Land of Enchantment, including when summoning emergency services, using a GPS navigation system, or using devices that are physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle.
If someone is caught texting while driving in New Mexico, they may face fines or, possibly, a reckless driving or vehicular homicide conviction.
Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Us Today
Distracted driving poses a serious risk to everyone on the road. Yet, many drivers still choose to engage in it every day. If you or someone you love has been harmed by a distracted driver, our New Mexico personal injury attorneys are here to help.
Our team at McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, P.A. has helped countless accident victims recover millions of dollars in compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more. We encourage you to contact our firm to learn how we may help you, too.
Call McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, P.A. at (505) 405-4441 to schedule a free consultation.