80% of vehicle crashes involve some form of distracted driving according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). While cell phone use gets a lot of attention for causing crashes, it isn’t the only dangerous distraction.
There are three ways a person can be considered distracted while driving. The California Department of Motor Vehicles website says drivers are distracted when they have their eyes off the road, mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel. Using a cell phone, especially to send a text message, does all three of these at once which is one of the reasons why it is considered to be so dangerous. Social media use on smartphones has also become a serious concern with apps like Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat that actually has a speedometer filter built in so users can capture what speed they are driving. While these are obviously extremely dangerous distractions, others are less assuming.
One of the biggest distractions while driving isn’t caused by any sort of device, but instead is simply letting the drivers mind wander. According to a 2013 analysis by Erie Insurance, 62% of all distracted driving accidents were caused by a driver simply “daydreaming”. The act of being lost in thought is by far the most common driver distraction that leads to crashes. Followed by cell phone use at 12%, outside person or event at 7%, and other factors including: passengers, eating/drinking, reaching for something in the vehicle, adjusting radio or temperature controls, using other internal controls, a moving object in the vehicle, or smoking related distractions.
It’s no surprise that cell phone usages gets as much attention as it does simply due to the fact that it’s a potentially regulated distraction. Currently 46 states have adopted legislation to stop texting while driving and 14 have hand held cell phone restrictions.
While it’s nearly impossible to have completely distraction free driving all of the time, we can do our best to be diligent in our effort. Here are a few tips to keep driving distractions to a minimum.
Tips For Distraction Free Driving
● Don’t use your cell phone or if you must, pull over to the side of the road to do so
● Don’t drive while drowsy
● Avoid driving with too many passengers
● Ask passengers to be calm and now rough house or speak too loudly
● Don’t eat or drink while driving
● Properly confine your pets while in the car
● Set music, temperature controls, and navigation before starting your drive