What is distracted driving?
There are three major kinds of driving distractions: visual, physical, and cognitive. What makes texting and driving so dangerous is that it involves all three, since you must look at your phone (visual), process the message and think of your reply (cognitive), and, finally, type your reply (physical). Though texting is involved in 25% of crashes, according to textingandrivingsafety.com, it is not the only distracted driving habit people regularly practice.
Visual driving distractions
A visual driving distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road. Some visual distractions are:
- GPS operation
- Item searching
- Music playlist browsing
- Cell phone
- A passenger
- Watching a video (on social media, usually)
- Staring at “off-road” drama
- The bobble head on your dashboard
- Fuzzy dice
- Fiddling with any electronic device
While some of these actions may sound harmless, consider this: if you take your eyes off the road for just 5 seconds while driving at 55 mph, it’s the equivalent of driving an entire football field blindfolded.
Physical driving distractions
A physical driving distraction is anything that takes one or both of your hands off the wheel of the car. Some physical distractions are:
- Adjusting the GPS
- Item searching
- Fiddling with the radio, air condition, or other devices
- Cell phone
Distraction.gov said you are three times more likely to crash when driving with a physical distraction.
Cognitive driving distractions
Probably the most underestimated driving distraction, cognitive distractions are anything that deter your thoughts from driving. Some cognitive distractions are:
- Talking (on the phone or to passengers)
- Listening to music
- Day dreaming
- “Off-road” drama
- Trying to figure out where you are
- Pets or children in the car
- Driving drowsy
According to unitypoint.org, one in four crashes involve distracted driving. While some of these distractions are impossible to eliminate, it’s important to always stay focused on the road while driving.
What can you do to prevent distracted driving?
Distracted driving is often inevitable. For example, if you need to drive your child to piano practice, your child will become a cognitive and possibly visual distraction. This makes it imperative to eliminate what driving distractions you can control and to always focus on driving when behind the wheel.
Eliminated driving distractions
There are several ways you can do this. Here are just some:
- Turn off your phone
- Program your GPS before you drive
- Have a CD ready or the radio on the right channel before you drive
- Finish grooming yourself before getting in the car
- Don’t eat or drink while driving
- Have the temperature corrected before hitting the road
- Ask any children to speak quietly
- If you must talk to a passenger, keep your eyes on the road
- If you have to answer a text, have a passenger do it (if possible)
- Secure your pets in a pen
- Don’t smoke while driving but do so before or after your drive
- If you feel tired, pull over and take a nap.
- Avoid multi-tasking
- Remove bobblehead, fuzzy dice, or any dashboard accessory that might distract you
- Do not search for an item while driving
Focus on the road
It sounds simple enough but focusing on driving can prove to be a challenge to drivers. While it’s not easy, don’t let your thoughts wander to today’s chores and keep your thoughts on the road. Even if you are driving in a familiar area, you should always direct your mind to the task at hand. It is estimated that 55% of crashes occur within 5 miles of someone’s house. There is never an “easy road” to drive on, and you should always focus mentally on driving.
Don’t drive drowsy
Another widely underestimated driving distraction is driving while drowsy. We know how dangerous driving while drunk or driving while texting is, but drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. According to Geico, 37% of drowsy drivers actually fall asleep while driving. This is not worth the risk!
Take a driving course
Despite the fact 90% of people know that how dangerous driving while distracted is, one-third of drivers still practice these dangerous habits. You cannot control the drivers around you, so your best defense is to drive defensively. Taking a defensive driving course can help teach you defensive driving methods while improving your own driving. Often, it can lower your car insurance as well.
For more on impaired driving, check out this site.
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