Distracted driving is one of the most significant dangers on our roads today. With cell phone use on the rise in the last twenty years, distracted driving has risen to an unprecedented amount. Texting while driving causes around 1.6 million car accidents each year, according to the National Safety Council. Distraction can come from anywhere, however, and it’s crucial to be aware of all kinds of distractions that can occur while driving. This article will break down what distracted driving is and what we can take away from distracted driving awareness month this year.
Types of Distracted Driving
The CDC defines three types of distracted driving:
- Visual Distraction: A visual distraction occurs when a driver takes their eyes off of the road. This may involve checking a quick text, looking for something inside the car, or even if their eyes drift shut due to tiredness.
- Manual Distraction: A manual distraction is when a driver removes their hands from the wheel, perhaps to reach for something in the back seat, to eat or drink, or to change a setting on the air conditioner or music player.
- Cognitive Distraction: A mental distraction involves taking one’s mind off of driving. This can happen if one drives when emotionally distressed or fatigued.
All of these types of distractions are extremely dangerous and can lead to fatal accidents. It’s crucial to be aware of yourself at all times behind the wheel to avoid engaging in any of these risky behaviors. There are three major risk factors for distracted driving that we will discuss below.
Risk Factors for Distracted Driving
Cell Phone Use
One common form of distraction that we’ve already mentioned is cell phone use. Cell phones are ingrained into our everyday lives, and it’s hard to pull ourselves away long enough to focus on driving. However, it is a necessity if we want to be safe on the road. The National Safety Council found that one out of every four accidents is caused by talking or texting on cell phones. Most people will admit to having used one while driving. The temptation is difficult to resist, which is why it is best to keep phones switched off and out of reach while you’re on the road.
Eating While Driving
Eating while driving is another culprit for people to become distracted on the road, especially when people have to drive long distances. People who work on the road, such as long-distance truckers, are especially at risk of eating while driving if they become hungry after hours of driving. However, this is a manual distraction and a significant risk. A driver is three times more likely to be in an accident if they eat or drink while driving. Those who work on the road need to ensure that they use their breaks for eating so that they don’t take the risk of getting into an accident on the road.
Drowsy driving is a form of distracted driving that is especially common among shift workers and long-haul truckers. No job is ever worth your life, however, so it is crucial always to take the breaks you need and pull over to rest if you ever feel yourself getting tired. Long, boring drives with minimal scenery or variation can also lend themselves to making drivers tired. Find ways to entertain yourself on the road, so you don’t find yourself drifting off while you’re driving.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
- Turn off your phone. Your phone is the worst distraction you have right at your fingertips. Turn your phone off and put it out of reach so that you are not tempted to use it.
- Pull over when you need to. If you do ever need your phone, or feel tired or unfocused, pull over until you are confident you can focus on the road again. You should also pull over when you need to eat and drink.
- Plug in GPS coordinates ahead of time. If you are using your phone for GPS, always plug in the information and get the map set up before driving. Even the few seconds it takes to type in an address can be a fatal distraction.
- Be mindful of passengers. Children, pets, and friends can all be distractions to your focus on the road. Make pets are restrained and let everyone in the car know how important your focus is. If possible, have someone help you take care of children or pets.
Distracted driving awareness month is not the only time to be mindful of distracted driving. It is a danger year-round, and drivers should be on their guard whenever they get behind the wheel. For technology to monitor distracted driving among your fleet vehicles like telematics and dash cams, reach out to Azuga today.