Distracted driving causes a staggering number of collisions each year. Many distracted driving wrecks leave people with severe injuries or worse. Awareness campaigns, adjustments to driver’s education programs and changing safety statutes have all helped make people aware of the dangers involved with texting while driving.
Sadly, just like with drunk driving, awareness alone hasn’t been enough to change crash rates. A significant number of drivers still make bad choices at the wheel, and even those who try to make safety-conscious choices might still end up significantly distracted. Many people ignore or downplay the risks of certain kinds of distractions that can be just as dangerous as reading a text message while driving on the freeway. What forms of distraction do people often think they can navigate safely?
1. Child and passenger distractions
Parents with kids in their vehicle and those carpooling on the way to work often ignore how dangerous it is to become engaged with the other occupants of a vehicle.
Conversations while driving or sing-alongs with toddlers may help the miles pass more quickly, but they also mean that the driver won’t remain fully focused on the road in front of them. Researchers believe that children are a main source of distraction for parents at the wheel, and any conversation can potentially become a distraction.
2. Food and beverages
If there’s one distraction that almost everyone seems to think is acceptable, it is probably eating and drinking at the wheel. Countless people eat breakfast on the way to work or have their morning coffee while dropping their kids off at school. Unfortunately, eating and drinking are distracting behaviors on their own and become infinitely more distracting if someone accidentally spills something.
3. Built-in screens or GPS devices
There seems to be a little bit of a disconnect between what causes the risk of a crash and how people adjust their behaviors.
Just because manufacturers put touchscreens in their vehicles for climate and radio controls does not mean that manually touching a screen and looking away from the road is safer than it would be if the device were a mobile phone. Similarly, GPS devices or phones in GPS mode can also be a source of distraction.
Drivers need to remember that anything that takes their eyes off of the road in front of them or their hands off of the wheel could increase their reaction time and their likelihood of causing a crash. Adjusting driving behaviors to reflect the leading causes of motor vehicle collisions can help people to avoid causing a wreck.