Distracted driving is any activity that could divert your attention away from the main task of driving. It is something that is both dangerous and common. In fact, drivers spend more than half of their time focused on things other than driving. You may be surprised to learn that cell phones and texting are just part of the problem when it comes to distracted driving. While putting away your phone while you drive is an important safety step, other behaviors behind the wheel, from eating/drinking to using a GPS, can put you at risk. Everything/anything that occupies your mind or your vision can contribute to distraction behind the wheel.
A list of driving distractions may include:
• Using a smartphone;
• Eating or drinking;
• Talking to passengers;
• Programming a GPS;
• Playing with a radio or MP3 player.
When we attempt to perform multiple tasks at the same time, like driving while talking on the phone or eating, we can encounter performance problems. Multiple tasks tend to compete for our brain's attention.
We see people driving without looking where they are going every day. Driving while visually distracted can be as dangerous as driving with your eyes closed. You would not make a turn or change lanes with your eyes closed, yet, distracted drivers are, in effect, doing just that.
Some common distractions are adjusting music or GPS devices, applying makeup, reading, and reaching for moving objects. Each of these tasks can greatly increase your odds of getting into an accident.
Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it requires visual and cognitive distraction at the same time.
Any distraction, regardless of how quick or harmless it may seem, should be avoided when you are behind the wheel. Remember to keep your eyes and brain focused on the road at all times.
Setting a Good Example
Avoiding sending text messages or calling someone you know is on the road can help prevent them from distraction. Parents can set a good example for children by modeling attentive driving, including putting away the phone and not eating or grooming behind the wheel. Learn more about how to keep your teen driver safe.