According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the United States Department of Transportation, in 2014, distracted driving accounted for over 400,000 injuries and over 3,000 fatalities. Distracted driving means more than just not texting while driving. While putting down the cell phone is a start, there are still many other bad habits that many people partake in while driving that pose a threat to their safety and others around them.
Driving requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention and anything that pulls you away on any one of these levels is a distraction. Here’s a list of things you may be guilty of and should try to avoid while driving. This list is not all inclusive but should give you a good general idea of the types of behaviors that can easily distract you from the true task at hand – driving!
Eating or drinking – Having a snack or sip to drink can interrupt the visual, manual, and cognitive attention a person should have on the road in front of them. Taking a glance to make sure your aim is true for the cup holder is a split second in which the driver in front of you may have braked.
Adjusting the radio – It may sound harmless but many times insurance claims are made with this as the excuse. A lot can happen in the few moments it takes to look at the radio and turn a dial.
Messing with the GPS – Or any map for that matter. Set up your GPS or review your directions before hitting the road to reduce distractions while behind the wheel of a moving car.
Using the phone – Can you believe that once upon a time, people drove without a cell phone? Phone calls (even hands-free devices), texting, emails, Snapchats, Facebooking, and the like can wait until your trip is complete. If you are not 100% focused on your driving, then you are a distracted driver. If it is absolutely, truly an emergency, pull off to the side of the road.
Staring at a car accident or car broken down on the road – We have all been guilty of rubbernecking at some point in our driving careers but trying to see the extent of the damage of the car on the side of the road is not worth rear ending the vehicle in front of you (who is probably also rubbernecking).
Grooming – Just because you are running late doesn’t mean it is a good idea to shave, do your hair, or put on your make up while going 45mph or more. Driving with your knees is not good driving!
It may seem impossible to get through life without your phone or grabbing a bite to eat on the go but those few minutes you saved are not worth your life or the life of someone else.