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Watch carefully for potentially distracted drivers on the road

You understand that driving a motor vehicle is a major responsibility. Not only do you take your own life in your hands when you get behind the wheel, you risk the potential for serious liability if you damage property or hurt someone else while driving. In order to mitigate that risk, you probably take steps to ensure you drive safely, including adjusting your speed to match road conditions and avoiding driving after drinking or taking medication.

You probably know that distracted driving is dangerous and can make you more likely to crash, so you avoid handling your phone or other distractions while you drive. Sadly, other people don't always choose to behave in a similarly responsible manner. All it takes is one driver focusing on something other than the road for a few seconds to cause a severe crash involving your car.

Distraction is incredibly dangerous on the road

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine people die every day in the United States in crashes related to distracted driving. More than 1,000 others end up hurt in distraction-caused crashes. Those figures make it clear that indulging in distraction can put you and everyone else on the road at risk.

The CDC explains how what seems like a minor issue, such as reading or sending a single text, could have catastrophic results. Looking down at a phone for five seconds at 55 miles per hour means that you've traveled the length of a football field without your eyes on the road. In that time, a child or animal could wander into the road. The vehicle in front of you could stop, or another vehicle could turn or merge onto the street in front of your vehicle.

Look for more that just phones and tablets

While most people assume that distracted driving is an issue caused solely by social media and the rise of text-based communication, in reality, it's been an issue for much longer. Distraction by cellphones is a serious issue, but it is far from the only source of potentially dangerous distractions.

Other common sources of distraction include conversations with people in the vehicle, applying making, changing or adjusting clothing, reaching into the passenger or rear seat to grab something, eating or even adjusting the radio, CD or MP3 player in your vehicle.

If you see anyone in a vehicle near you looking away from the road while in the driver's seat, you should take whatever steps are necessary to avoid that vehicle. Alter your route by turning down another street. Move over a lane to avoid driving next to the distracted driver. If it won't result in speeding, consider passing the person.

For those who have already suffered a crash caused by a distracted driver, it's possible to hold that person accountable for the injuries and property damage that were a direct result of the accident.

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