Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on our roadways.  Drivers texting while driving tops the list, but there are a seemingly endless list of risky actions that follow and present a risk as well.  Drivers using cell phones causes an estimated one in four car accidents, according to the National Safety Council

Contrary to popular belief, using a hands-free headset does not thwart this distraction, because NSC research indicates speaking on a phone at all distracts the brain from driving.  Other actions distract your focus from the road, including setting your navigation, drinking coffee, eating, smoking, dropping something, applying makeup, and adjusting what you’re listening to.  While scrolling through apps and using social media are more obvious forms, even carrying on a conversation with passengers can lead to distracted driving. 

According to the Occupational Health & Safety website, drivers should be aware of the three major types of distractions while driving:

  • Visual – looking at something other than the road
  • Manual – manipulating something other than the steering wheel
  • Cognitive – thinking about something other than driving

While not as prevalent as those types of distractions, auditory distractions are yet another factor that take the attention of the driver away from the task at hand.

Unfortunately, drivers may not realize they’re cognitively distracted.  Cognitive distraction results when your eyes, hands, and mind aren’t focused on the task in front of you. 

The Top 5 Distractions While Driving

  • Cell Phones.  Cell phones are the leading cause of distractive driving.  Did you know studies show using a cell phone while driving (even if hands free) creates the same delayed reactions as a person with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent?
  • Car Stereos.  Adjusting the radio is a common task while driving.
  • Passengers.  Interacting with passengers is a cognitive distraction that is most common when driving.
  • GPS Devices.  Navigation can present a major distraction, as GPS devices require the same type of visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver as sending a text message.
  • Eating or Drinking.  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates that eating while driving increases the likelihood of crashes by 80 percent.

Let this article, and month of recognition, remind you to stay focused behind the wheel and eliminate distractions that may tempt you to lose focus from the road.  More than 276,000 people were injured in distraction-related car crashes in 2018 alone. 

Despite traffic largely decreasing during COVID-19, alarmingly the roads have only gotten more dangerous.  It’s important to consider that distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves; they are a danger to everyone else on the road.  Please be mindful, and remind your family and friends to be cautious with distractions behind the wheel. 

For more information on preventing distracted driving: https://www.nhtsa.gov/distracted-driving/april-distracted-driving-awareness-month

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