The 7 Biggest Distractions on the Road
Driving requires intense and constant concentration. A slip-up in coordination could result in car accidents.
Most motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries occur due to distractions. Distractive driving happens when the driver takes a few seconds off the road to engage in non-driving activities.
Modern technology and interactions with other people are some of the top distractions for drivers. Unfortunately, these activities endanger you and your passengers and other road users. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 3,142 people were killed in car crashes involving a distracted driver in the U.S.
Types of Distractions
There are three main types of distractions that drivers encounter.
These activities involve taking off your hands off the wheel.
With these distractions, the driver engages in a task that takes their eyes off the road.
This distraction involves taking your mind off the road.
7 Biggest Distractions on the Road
Distractive driving not only harms the individual in the car but puts other people at risk. For example, a CDC study states that about 1 in 5 of the people who died in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were outside the vehicle, either on a bike or walking.
So what are the biggest distractions?
1: Use of Cellphones
Cellphone-related road accidents are incredibly high. This is because texting while driving or even using a hands-free option distracts the driver from the road in an instant.
Because of this, more than 44 American states, including California, banned text messaging while driving in 2015. In addition, all cell phone use in California, including hands-free, is banned for bus drivers and those under 18.
A California Traffic Safety Survey had almost 53% of the drivers admit that they have made driving errors while on the phone. 50% of the state’s residents agreed that text driving is a significant distraction.
Apart from texting, most drivers have to use GPS while moving from one place to the next. Taking a few seconds to glance at the GPS directions on your phone could cause an accident. As you use this technology, make sure it’s mounted where you can see it or use audio to get the directions.
2: Talking to Other Passengers
When riding with another passenger, it might be hard to ignore them. However, turning to look at the passenger while talking takes your mind and eyes off the road in an instance.
As you chat with them, try to keep the conversation brief and focus on the road to avoid any accidents. Passengers can help the driver by helping with navigation activities.
3: Handling Children and Pets
Traveling with children and pets typically involves a lot of distractions. They need constant attention and could be fussy if they don’t get it. However, as a responsible parent or owner, it’s best to make sure that the children and pets are buckled up on their seats and have a supply of snacks or toys to avoid distractions.
4: Eating and Drinking
The U.S has a lot of drive-thrus for people to grab a quick bite on their way to or from work. Unfortunately, eating or drinking while driving makes most drivers take off their hands off the wheel and divert attention from the road.
The NHSTA estimates eating while driving increases your chances of an accident by 80%. Instead, use the relevant features in the car, such as cupholders or eat snacks that require less attention.
5: Applying Makeup and Grooming
A quick grooming session, especially for women, can lead to injuries or fatalities. Taking time to apply makeup or comb your hair while driving places you at a higher risk of accidents. If you need to do some touch-up, it’s advisable to wait until you get to a safe destination or car parking.
6: Adjusting Stereo, Audio, and Climate Controls
When driving, you might need to adjust the AC or tune in to your favorite radio station. While this seems like a small task, it causes a major distraction by taking your mind off the road and engaging your hands. If you have a passenger, you can ask them to assist in changing the controls to avoid any fatalities.
Zoning out while on the road is so common. For drivers using a familiar road, they may tend to drive on autopilot, which is dangerous.
A wandering mind can cause instant collisions and sudden reactions. For instance, according to the NHSTA, in 2017, 9% of all fatal crashes in the United States were as a result of distracted driving.
These road distractions are responsible for fatal car crashes and injuries. In the U.S, young adults and teen drivers are more likely to be involved in distractive driving-related accidents, hence the strict regulations on cellphone use.
If you cause a distracted driving accident, you are liable for a civil lawsuit for victim damages or a criminal charge for violating state laws. However, by avoiding road distractions, you reduce your risk of causing an accident.