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If you take your mind off of driving, your hands off the wheel, or your eyes off of the roadway, consider yourself distracted.

All of us may get distracted from time to time behind the wheel, but distracted driving is dangerous. It can even be deadly. Here, we want to review what constitutes distracted driving specifically so we can highlight the type of activities that you may unconsciously do while you are behind the wheel.

What's Considered Distracted Driving in Arizona?

Types of Distracted Driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) generally discusses visual, manual, and cognitive distractions, but we also want to mention auditory distractions to differentiate them a little bit from the others:

  1. Visual Distractions. These common distractions cause you to take your eyes off the road, even if just briefly. Examples include checking your phone, adjusting the GPS, or looking at passengers.
  2. Manual Distractions. These include any actions that take your hands off the wheel. Examples include eating, drinking, or reaching for items inside the vehicle.
  3. Cognitive Distractions. When your mind is not focused on driving, you become cognitively distracted. Daydreaming, talking to passengers, or worrying about personal issues are common examples.
  4. Auditory Distractions. Sounds can distract drivers, such as loud music, GPS voice commands, or incoming notifications on your phone.

Distracted Driving Data in AZ

Data from the Arizona Department of Transportation indicates that several different types of distracted driving led to serious injuries entering the most recent reporting year of information on file. Some of the most common types of distracted driving that occur in Arizona include:

  • Eating or drinking inside the vehicle
  • Unspecified distractions outside of the vehicle
  • Various activities with electronic devices
  • Talking on a hands-free or handheld device
  • Distractions by other passengers in the vehicle
  • Distractions by pets in the vehicle

Understanding Arizona’s Hands-Free Law

Arizona has a hands-free law prohibiting drivers from holding or using electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Key points include:

  • Prohibition. The law bans texting, calling, or browsing while holding a device unless the vehicle is parked safely.
  • Exceptions. Drivers can use devices if they are in hands-free mode (Bluetooth headsets, dashboard mounts), for emergencies, or if they are emergency workers.
  • Penalties. Drivers caught violating the law can face fines ranging from $75 to $250 for repeat offenses.

Penalties for Other Types of Distracted Driving

Arizona law also addresses other types of distracted driving, even if they do not involve mobile devices. The state’s reckless driving statute (A.R.S. § 28-693) can apply to drivers engaging in behavior that shows a disregard for safety. Penalties include:

  1. First Offense. Class 2 misdemeanor, fines up to $750, and a possible jail sentence of up to four months.
  2. Repeat Offense. Class 1 misdemeanor, fines up to $2,500, and a potential six-month jail sentence.

Drivers engaging in activities like eating, grooming, or other distractions can be cited if these actions lead to reckless behavior behind the wheel.

Any person harmed due to the negligent actions of a distracted or in Arizona should contact a car accident attorney for assistance as promptly as possible. These claims can be challenging, but it is imperative that you begin gathering evidence quickly in order to bolster your claim so you can recover compensation for your losses.