Distracted Driving, Are You Distracted?

What is distracted driving? According to distraction.gov, distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

10% of drivers of all ages under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.1

We have all heard about the dangers of texting while driving. Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. But there are many forms of distracted driving. Let’s take a look at some of the many forms of distractions so that we might think to avoid them the next time we are at the wheel.

Texting. Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.2

Using a cell phone or smartphone. At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.3

Eating and drinking. Did you know that eating while driving is considered even more dangerous than talking on a cell phone? The NHTSA indicates that eating is a significant negative factor in a driver’s reaction time.

Talking to passengers. That’s right passengers, you can also be the cause of distraction, so let’s save those intense conversations until after a safe arrival of the destination and let the driver focus all his/her attention on driving.

Grooming. Ladies and Gents let’s get to our destination before checking our hair or makeup because it won’t matter what you look like if you don’t make it to your destination.

Reading, including a map. Try using a voice activated GPS. But GPS can be distracting too, make sure to enter your destination before taking off, or take a few extra moments to pull over and enter a new route.

Watching a video. Try listening to an audiobook instead. I know at red lights its tempting to look at the latest videos on your favorite social media outlet, but what happens when you miss the green light or it’s not quite over when the light changes, do you continue watching? It is best to just leave the watching until you are finished driving.

Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player. If you have a passenger in the car, it’s best to let them navigate the audio…even if they don’t have the greatest taste in music…is it really worth risking an accident?

Distracted driving kills thousands of people each year. It is a very serious safety problem. Now that you have the information, do your best to avoid forms of distraction while driving!

1. http://www.distraction.gov/get-the-facts/faq.html

2. http://mcsac.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/DriverDistractionStudy.pdf