Top 3 Types of Distracted Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 9 people are killed and nearly 1,000 are injured in distracted driving accidents every day in the United States. Furthermore, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 3,500 people were killed by distracted driving in 2015 alone. While teens and young adults are at the highest risk of distracted driving accidents, anyone who drives with distractions can cause an accident.
In general, there are 3 main types of distracted driving:
- Visual distractions
- Manual distractions
- Cognitive distractions
These are things that take your eyes off the road. A visual distraction can be a cell phone, GPS, mirror, radio, temperature control, or other object that keeps you from looking at the road in front of you. Taking in the view while driving and putting on makeup are also common visual distractions that can have disastrous effects.
While driving, an accident can happen in a split second. If you are glancing in the backseat or looking down at your phone, a light can turn red, or another driver can pull out in front of you. Having your eyes constantly on the road scanning for danger can mean the difference between life and death. It is important to keep your eyes on the road, and to pull over if you need to look at your phone or read directions.
When driving, it is important to keep your hands on the steering wheel. However, manual distractions take one or both of your hands off the wheel. If you drive with one hand on the wheel, at least make sure your other hand is free to grab the wheel in case of an emergency. If you hold food or drinks, cigarettes, or other objects while driving, you may not be able to react in time to avoid an accident. Furthermore, if you are fiddling with a seatbelt, brushing your hair, turning knobs on the radio or air conditioner, or searching in a purse or wallet for something, you may not have the ability to perform emergency maneuvers to prevent a wreck.
It is important to make any adjustments to the car before you start to drive. You can also pull over if you need to take your hands off the wheel for any reason. Furthermore, ask your passengers to help adjust the knobs or find something in your purse so you can leave your hands on the wheel. This can help prevent an accident and keep you and your passengers safe.
These are distractions that take your mind’s focus off of driving. If your mind becomes unfocused, you can easily lose track of the road, which increases the risk of being involved in an accident. It is important to maintain your focus on the road and control your emotions while driving.
Cognitive distractions include:
- Being under the influence of alcohol/drugs
- Talking to someone
- Fighting or arguing with someone
- Thinking about things unrelated to driving
- Road rage
Drowsiness can also contribute to cognitive distractions. If your emotions become heated or you are distracted by upsetting thoughts, you are considered a distracted driver, even if your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel. Cognitive distractions can happen almost unconsciously. Thus, it is important to be aware of things that may cause your mind to drift away from driving. You can also ask passengers to avoid talking to you while you drive, and also avoid using hands-free phone calls. In addition, you should stay calm, even if you are upset about something.
Texting While Driving
Texting falls under all 3 categories of distractions. It takes your eyes off the road as you look at the screen, it takes your hands off the wheel while you type a message, and it distracts your mind from the road as you think about the content of the message. Because of this, texting is extremely dangerous. In fact, 1 in every 4 car accidents is caused by texting while driving.
While hands-free phone devices may seem like a beneficial alternative, they can still cause cognitive distraction. It is best to pull over if you need to look at your phone. You can also turn your phone to Do Not Disturb mode until you reach your destination.
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