According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the United States Department of Transportation, distracted driving accounts for over 400,000 injuries and close to 3,000 fatalities. Learning how to be a better driver, sans distractions, is important to your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Distracted driving means more than texting while driving. There are many other bad habits many people partake in while driving that pose a threat to their safety and others around them.
Driving requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention; anything that pulls you away on any 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 general idea of the 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 an excuse. A lot can happen in the few moments it takes to look at the radio and turn the 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 your cell: Can you believe that once upon a time, people drove without a cell phone? Phone calls (even hands-free devices), texting, emails, Snaps, Messenger, TikTok (including recording!), etc. can wait until your trip is complete. To help reduce notifications from snagging your attention, turn on your phone's safe driving mode.
Staring at a car accident or car broken down on the road: We have all been guilty of rubbernecking but trying to see the extent of the damage to the car on the side of the road is not worth rear-ending the vehicle in front of you (who is probably also trying to catch a glance at the accident and fully distracted from their driving).
Grooming: Just because you are running late doesn’t mean it is a good idea to shave, do your hair, or put on your makeup while going 45mph or more. Driving with your knees is not good driving!
Driving while overly exhausted: Distracted driving doesn't have to mean you are doing something other than driving. It can also mean your mind is not properly focused on the task, such as being too tired to drive safely. Pull into a rest area to catch a nap.
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. 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.