One in every ten fatal crashes across the USA involves distracted driving, according to NHTSA, and many could have been prevented had due care been taken. The risks of distracted driving are widespread and all result from the same cause. When distracted, a driver misses critical cues and is late to complete a life-saving action. This article will cover what counts as distracted driving and the top four risks of it in your vehicle.
What Is Distracted Driving and What Counts?
Distraction comes in three key forms, visual, manual, and cognitive. To put this simply, taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off driving.
The first category can include reading maps or SatNavs, looking at yourself in the mirror, and watching crash scenes or other road-users. The second includes eating, drinking, using a handheld phone, personal grooming, and texting. Finally, cognitive distractions can be as broad as talking with passengers in the car or even daydreaming.
Some of these distractions are at the fault of the driver’s direct actions, but some may crop up without your noticing. Below, we outline some of the major risks of distraction when you’re driving and how to avoid them.
1. Incoming Texts and Emails
According to the CDC, sending a text while driving at 55 miles an hour has the same real-world effect as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. In their 2019 study, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System found that the risk of reading or replying to texts and email was much higher in young adults and teens.
To avoid this, all drivers should put their phone on silent and consider leaving it on the back seat. For young adults and teens, try to reply to messages before getting in the car or avoid starting new conversations before a drive.
2. Passengers (Especially Young Children)
For those who drive with children or loud passengers in the car, you might notice your concentration being torn between driving and managing your companions. In this case, we recommend either speaking seriously to your passengers or keeping your children in the backseat entertained with a book or game.
3. Daydreaming or Immersion in Audio
Listening to the radio or an audiobook can be entertaining for long car journeys but if you notice yourself losing focus on the road, you should turn these off immediately.
4. Reading Your GPS Navigation or Map
Many GPS navigation systems are now fitted in a way that allows drivers to glance at them quickly. However, if you’re reading a map or staring at your GPS, you’re taking your eyes off the road. If you need to be sure of a turn, ask a passenger to check the map for you or pull off to one side and check it.