Distractions threaten drivers on nearly every road in the United States. In fact, fatal vehicle collisions can be attributed to at least 9% of all highway accidents. Moreover, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, alone, distracted driving claimed the lives of 2,841 people.
Types of distractions
Distractions include any activities that take the driver's attention off the road. For example, talking and texting on cellphones, chatting with passengers; eating and drinking while driving, adjusting controls and seats, and performing personal grooming at the wheel all constitute distractions. It only takes a a few seconds of inattention to lead to an accident.
Cellphone use is the leading cause of distractions
One of the most common causes of distracted driving is talking or texting on a mobile phone. And teens comprise the largest group of people who admit to driving while distracted just prior to a car accident.
Cellphones distract drivers because they lose visual contact by taking their eyes off the road. Also, they often lose control because they take their hands off the wheel. Cognitive attention also ceases whenever someone stops paying attention to the primary task at hand, because they are straining to focus on anything other than the primary task of driving. To address the issue, several states have passed laws prohibiting texting while driving. And some also prohibit the use of hand-held devices, allowing only Bluetooth. But that does not eliminate the problem, as studies reveal that drivers can even become distracted when someone else in their car is chatting on a phone.
Eating and drinking while driving does not save time
Consuming food and beverages while driving diminish the amount of attention any driver can pay to the road. Generally, whenever people eat or drink, they routinely switch hands, balance cups or sandwiches, take their eyes off the road, and even entirely remove their hands off the steering wheel. To eliminate your risk of driving while distracted, pull over whenever you need to focus on anything other than operating a motor vehicle.
Adjust cars before setting off
Adjust your seats and steering wheel position, choose music, and adjust volume controls to eliminate the risk of distractions. Even in late model cars, where these features are easy to access, adjustments lead to distractions. And distractions lead to accidents.
Believe it or not, the most common causes of distracted driving include arguments, children crying or throwing tantrums and intense conversations. Small talk and general conversations usually prove less problematic.
Grooming or clothes changes
Multi-tasking by driving while preparing for a meeting can prove extremely distracting. Avoid the temptation to comb your hair, apply makeup, or remove clothing while driving.
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