Distracted driving is the cause of a huge number of accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it caused 3,477 deaths in 2015. Distracted driving can include a variety of things, from getting distracted by things inside or outside of the vehicle to the driver simply letting their thoughts wander. There are huge campaigns to tackle distracted driving, with the use of cellphones in the spotlight as one of the biggest causes. Understanding the causes of distracted driving, the consequences, and how to avoid it can make you a better and safer driver. Here are some of the ways drivers might get distracted when they’re behind the wheel.
Talking on the Phone
The use of phones while driving is extremely common. The NHTSA says that 660,000 people use them while driving during daylight hours. Holding a phone to have a conversation means that the driver is driving one-handed, and distracted by talking to someone they can’t see. Some people try to solve this problem by using a handsfree set, but there is evidence that it doesn’t do much to help. Having a telephone conversation with a handsfree set might mean you’re no longer holding your phone, but you’re still having a distracting conversation. And it can be more distracting than speaking to a passenger. A number of states ban holding a phone and talking while driving, but headsets are usually allowed.
Texting/Using Mobile Devices
It’s not just talking on the phone that can get drivers in trouble. Texting and other ways to use handheld and mobile devices are also distracting, especially because they often mean the driver looks away from the road. Because of this, there are a group of states that have banned texting while driving – more than the number that bans talking on the phone. Texting isn’t the only thing that can distract drivers. Checking GPS units or map apps, changing music and other actions using a mobile device can lead to accidents.
Distracted By Passengers
Having passengers in the car is a pretty common occurrence, and it’s not likely to be something anyone will try to avoid. Sometimes you need to take your kids to school or give a friend a ride. However, many people don’t realize that passengers can be distracting. Children especially can distract the driver, although they might not mean to. The advice at https://www.caraccidentlawyer-ny.com/bronx-car-accident-lawyer/ lists interacting with passengers as one of the top causes of distractions. In their efforts to support people who have been in accidents, they need to be aware of how other drivers could get distracted and cause an accident with your vehicle.
Distractions Outside Your Vehicle
Distractions outside the vehicle can also be a cause of accidents. As much as you might want to enjoy the passing scenery or it might be hard to ignore something weird happening, it’s essential to pay attention to the road at all times. You can’t ban distracting things, so it’s up to you to be able to filter anything out. Even witnessing an accident on the road shouldn’t cause you to forget what you’re doing. Nor should you slow down to have a look at the aftermath of an accident.
Listening to Music or Radio
Listening to music, the radio or perhaps a podcast or audiobook while driving is a common thing to do. Drivers on their own especially might enjoy having something to fill the silence. But it’s important to recognize that these things can be distracting if you’re not careful. You can find some information on the distraction of music at http://www.bisociety.org/music-brain-deadly-lullaby-distracted-driving/. You should make sure that the volume isn’t turned up too high, and that you’re not distracted by changing station or track. If you want to be able to change what you’re listening to, it’s best to have a passenger do it. It can also help if you can use voice commands or do it without looking.
Smoking, Eating, and Drinking
Anything that removes the use of one of your hands or requires you to perform a task other than driving can distract you. Although you might get hungry or thirsty or wish to have a cigarette, while you drive, it can mean you’re not concentrating fully on the road. Pulling over somewhere safe is a better idea, and it gives you time to rest too. It’s important to take breaks while driving, so why not stop instead of trying to refuel while you drive? Food and drink can distract you more than you might think. You need to concentrate to get it into your mouth, and you’re more likely to take your eyes off the road.
Taking Your Mind Off Driving
Sometimes, drivers get distracted simply because their mind begins to wander. They might be driving a familiar route, such as their commute to work, so they don’t have to pay a lot of attention to where they’re going. But thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner can mean you’re not watching the road and other drivers as closely as you should be.
Consequences of Distracted Driving
In 2015, 391,000 people in the US were injured in motor accidents the involved distracted driving. With nearly 3,500 deaths caused by distracted driving too, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. On a more personal level, if you cause an accident because you’re not paying attention, you could face legal consequences. In some states, even being caught talking on the phone or texting can get you in trouble. There’s also the risk that someone else who is distracted might involve you in an accident, so it’s an issue that everyone needs to address.
Reducing the Risk of Distraction
Changes in the laws are helping to tackle distracted driving, and so is public education. If you want to make some moves to make sure you don’t get distracted while driving, you can take a look at your behavior to see what you could change. It’s also important for parents to lead by example for their teens.
Distracted driving is dangerous, and it needs to be addressed. If you want to know more about it, you can find resources online, including on the NHTSA website.