Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from the driving. According to the CDC, about 3,000 people die in car crashes involving distracted drivers every year. With the introduction of smartphones in the last decade, many believe the conversation of distracted driving only involves texting while driving. Texting is the most dangerous distraction, as sending or reading a text can take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. Although many accidents occur because of texting and driving, this is just one part of the larger issue that exists with drivers on the road.
When trying to avoid distracted driving, it is important to understand the three types of distracted driving: cognitive, visual, and manual distractions.
Visual distractions are the most common types of distractions. They include anything that can take a driver’s eyes off the road. Some types of visual distractions include:
- Reading text messages
- Putting makeup on
- Changing a song
- Looking at a passenger
- Looking for items in your car
- Using a GPS
These are just a few of many factors that can take a driver’s eyes off the road. It is important to be cautious when operating a vehicle. Visual distractions are most dangerous at high speeds and can impair the drivers’ ability to assess their surroundings and avoid dangers that could result in personal injury.
Manual distractions are anything that involves the driver taking one or both hands off the wheel. Here is a list of the common types of manual distractions.
- Eating and/or drinking while driving
- Adjusting the stereo
- Using a cell phone
- Reaching in the backseat for an item
- Applying makeup
- Looking through a purse or suitcase
These types of distractions can be dangerous, as they leave the driver helpless when it comes to having proper reaction times on the road. A driver should always have both hands on the wheel, unless shifting gears, in order to take quick action to avoid a vehicle collision or roadway hazard.
Cognitive distractions are not as defined as manual or visual distractions. These types of distractions involve anything that takes your mind off of driving. This can include a thought, a daydream, or a conversation that distracts you from driving properly. Common types of cognitive distractions include:
- Talking on the phone
- Thinking about work and/or school
- Expressing anger or frustration
- Chatting with passengers
The effects of cognitive distraction can be compared to drunk driving. Many drivers tend to have reduced reaction times, which interferes with your ability to make quick judgments in the event of an emergency situation on the road. Cognitive distractions can also reduce brain activity, leading to poor decision-making while driving.
Preventing Distracted Driving Accidents
You cannot drive a vehicle safely unless you have full attention to the road. If you engage in any non-driving activity while operating a vehicle, this can increase your chances of getting into an accident. It is important for everyone to get involved in helping stop distracted driving accidents from happening.
Teens can help set a good example with their friends. Encouraging teens to speak up when they see a friend driving while distracted can help save lives. Parents can lead by example and talk to their children about the responsibilities of driving and how important it is to drive safely not only for themselves but for others around them. Teachers and employers can also play a vital part in helping to stop distracted driving from happening. As a teacher or employer, have your students and employees commit to driving distraction-free.
Everyone in your community can play a significant role in preventing distracted driving accidents from happening.