In today's technological age, there are numerous things competing for our attention at any given time. While we may believe we are good at multitasking in other areas of our lives, it has no place behind the wheel. Distracting ourselves from the road can lead to distracted driving. Distracted driving killed 3,142 people in 2020 alone. Learn what constitutes distracted driving so that you can unplug while still in your driveway.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
Distractions include anything that diverts your attention away from the road, such as:
Speaking with passengers
Changing the radio station
Using entertainment or navigation systems
Texting while driving is a common cause of distraction and potentially one of the deadliest. Checking your phone takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, according to the CDC. While that may not seem like much, driving 55 miles per hour is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
There are three kinds of distractions to avoid:
Visual distractions include anything that takes your attention away from the road. Although it may appear obvious, you must look at the road to know where you're going. Driving while distracted by a visual distraction is equivalent to driving with your eyes closed. In either case, your eyes are off the road, putting you and others in danger. Eating, fiddling with technology, applying makeup or other grooming rituals, and reading can all be visual distractions.
Manual distractions include anything that takes your hands off the steering wheel. There is considerable overlap between visual and manual distractions. Changing your GPS system while driving, for example, would be a visual and manual distraction.
Cognitive distractions are anything that takes your attention away from the road. At any given time, multiple things compete for our attention, and while multitasking is common, humans aren't designed to process that much information at once. When we are unable to focus on the road because our minds are elsewhere, our performance suffers and we are more likely to be involved in an accident.
What Are the Risks of Distracted Driving?
Many states have passed anti-distracted driving legislation, including bans on texting or talking on the phone while driving. Learn about your state's laws and talk with passengers or family members about the consequences of distracted driving and why it is dangerous.
Distracted Driving Prevention
Take the following steps to reduce distracted driving and raise awareness:
Never attempt to multitask while driving. Adjust your mirrors, choose your music, use your phone, or have a snack before leaving your driveway.
If you're still tempted to use your phone while driving, try a cell phone blocking app that prevents you from texting or calling while driving.
If you notice a driver who is distracted, say something to them.
Reduce driver distractions by operating the GPS or other systems.
Parents should know:
Set a good example by not driving while distracted—teens and young adults are more likely to drive while distracted than their counterparts.
Discuss the dangers of distracted driving with your teen.