Top Driver Distractions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found distracted driving kills more than 9 people each day, while injuring more than 1,000 people. Any activity that takes attention away from driving is considered a distraction. Understanding which habits can be dangerous and making strides to correct behaviors can help save lives, prevent injuries and reduce accident-related expenses.
Leading the list of the distractions behind the wheel is mobile phones. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and near-crashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
A study by Car and Driver magazine compared the dangers of texting while driving to the effects of driving drunk to see which would be more dangerous under the same conditions. Measuring the time it takes to brake after being alerted by a red light to stop when the driver was legally drunk versus the driver sending a text revealed texting easily elicited the slowest response time.
Whether there's a pet bouncing in the front seat or children being boisterous in the back, passengers and items moving around the car are significant distractions. Turning around to look at the kids or to reach for something on the floor of the car can take a person's eyes off the road.
Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long.
The majority of foods require a person's hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at a rest area snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.