Did you know that the cause of 25% of auto accidents is distracted driving? That’s a considerable number of people we are talking about who are injured or killed annually due to accidents caused by drivers not being focused on the primary task of driving.
If you are not shocked by the above figure, let us make you familiar with another statistic: About nine people die every day due to crashes involving distracted drivers in the U.S. Many people try to drive their cars while using their cellphone. In many cases, distracted driving causes an accident. We want to make you aware of how fatal distracted driving can be and how you can identify and avoid distracted and multitasking behaviors.
Today’s blog will cover the following topics:
- The definition of distracted driving;
- The three types of driving distractions;
- How frequently distracted driving is the cause of significant injuries; and
- Tips to prevent distracted driving.
What’s Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is the leading cause of thousands of accidents every year. Distracted driving is any activity that takes your hands off the wheel and your mind off driving. Multitasking, or trying to do more than one thing at a time, puts yourself, your passengers, and anyone outside the vehicle in danger.
Many people may not realize it, but there are three categories of distracted driving; they are:
The Three Categories Of Driving Distraction
Manual distractions are activities while driving your vehicle, such as eating, drinking, changing the radio station, or looking at your GPS.
Visual distractions are activities similar to using your smartphone to check Google Maps to confirm directions or text someone.
Cognitive distractions include arguing with a friend, driving tired, or conversing on speakerphone. While your hands may be on the wheel and your eyes looking at the road, your primary focus isn’t driving.
Why is Texting While Driving So Dangerous?
Some distractions, such as using your cell phone, can combine different distractions simultaneously. For example, you need to hold the phone, which qualifies as a manual distraction. You open your phone to read a text message. Your eyes are off the road, so it is a visual distraction. To respond to the text, you must think and type out your response which presents a cognitive distraction.
The Death Toll of Distracted Driving
We cannot overlook the annual impact of distracted driving. Thousands of people die each year. Let’s talk about the damage caused by distracted driving each year.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Distracted driving was the reported cause of death of 3,142 people in 2019.
- Distracted driving caused 9% percent of fatal crashes, 15% of injuries, and 15% of all reported crashes in 2019.
- An estimated 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
- Distraction was the cause of 9% percent of fatal crashes for drivers 15 to 20 years old.
- In 2019 there were 566 nonoccupants (pedestrians, cyclists, and others) killed because of distracted driving.
- The age group of 18-29 is at the highest risk of being in a motor vehicle accident because of distraction. It is your responsibility as the driver or passenger in the vehicle to prevent distracted driving. Here are some common ways many people drive distracted and how to avoid them.
Prevention Tips For Distracted Driving
Avoid Eating While Driving Your Vehicle
Make a habit of eating your meal before or after driving your vehicle. Eating while driving is a form of manual distraction, and it can cause you to take one or both hands off the wheel. You should always avoid having a bite or drinking while driving.
Avoid or at least minimize beverages like coffee or other hot drinks. Spills of hot liquid on the driver from poorly secured hot beverage lids cause a surprisingly large number of crashes.
Use Smartphone Only In Case Of Emergencies
Don’t ever use smartphones for texting or any other kind of activity while driving your vehicle.
You shouldn’t use them at stop signs and lights, either. When you look at your phone’s bright screen, your vision field narrows. You may not realize the change, but you can no longer see all the obstacles around you.
That is why we believe you should only use smartphones only in case of emergencies. If you need to make an emergency call or text, pull over safely, place the call or text, then return to the roadway.
Leave Extra Time To Get To Your Location.
People often drive distracted because they are in a hurry and don’t feel they have time to pull over. Failing to schedule extra time often leads to dangerous behaviors that you can easily avoid. If you build in just five minutes extra, you can pull over to adjust the GPS without being a danger to yourself or others.
Don’t Drive While Being Drowsy.
37% of all drivers have admitted to being tired and falling asleep while driving their vehicles. If drivers don’t pull over to take a rest, it can lead to serious crashes. If you are feeling drowsy, you should pull over your vehicle in a safe location and get some rest. It may delay how long it takes to reach your destination, but at least you will make it there.
Acknowledge Your Distractions
Many of us like to think we are good at multitasking. Scientists have found no such thing as multitasking; instead, we are task-switching. We lose cognitive ability each time we switch between tasks. It is important to notice your bad behavior and commit to change.
Now that we have covered the various ways you can become distracted while operating a motor vehicle. It’s time for us to follow preventive measures and avoid accidents from these behaviors. You have one life, don’t lose it because of being careless. Talk to your friends and family, and if you see something, say something.