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The definition of distracted driving

When most of us think of distracted drivers, the image of someone texting while behind the wheel comes to mind. However, distracted driving can occur for several reasons, most of which aren’t legislated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies three types of distracted driving, which are:

  • Visual – taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive – taking your mind off driving

Cell phone use tends to get the most focus because it falls into all three categories – taking your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel and bringing them to your cell phone, while your mind is focused on composing or reading a message – but there are other activities that can distract a driver.

They include eating, applying makeup, daydreaming, road rage, digging through a wallet or purse, turning the knobs in the car and more. Distracted driving, in the entire scope of its definition, causes serious and sometimes fatal car accidents in Utah every year.

Utah law

Utah recognizes anything that pulls a motorist’s attention away from the road as a distraction, but the distracted driving laws prohibit using a handheld device behind the wheel. Even though other distractions could still cause an accident, they are not illegal.

Additionally, the cell phone ban is classified as a “secondary law.” This means that law enforcement cannot pull over a driver to issue a distracted driving ticket unless they are visibly in violation of some other primary law. First offense fines are generally limited to $100. An amendment was proposed in February of this year to upgrade these laws to be primary, but it was voted down. 

 

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