Driving Distractions Every Driver Should Avoid
Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction, endangering drivers, passengers and others on the road including pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2015, 391,000 people were injured due to distracted driving.
The only real solution to stop distracted driving accidents is to eliminate the distraction altogether. While on the road, be mindful of the following distractions:
Recent research shows that about 10% of people who are in fatal crashes are distracted. Smoking accounts for about 1% of fatal crashes. Distracted drivers who are trying to light cigarettes or dispose of ashes are placed in greater danger of causing an accident.
Moving pets, children or various objects are the culprits of some crashes. Only about 1% of accidents occur due to moving objects. Drivers should make sure children remain in their seats and have their safety belts securely fastened. Pets should be kept in carriers or in seat restraints.
1% of crashes occur as a result of drivers adjusting buttons or other controls in the vehicle. It is important to ensure these controls are set before driving. Some features may not be possible to set ahead of time. For example, setting the cruise control or using the windshield wipers while driving may be necessary. When this is the case, drivers should be aware of their surroundings.
Eating and Drinking
Approximately 2% of distracted drivers were eating or drinking at the time they crashed. Drivers should stop if they need to eat or drink. Even when stopping for coffee, it is important to either wait until arriving at their destination or drink the beverage before pulling out of the parking lot.
Searching for Lost Items
Drivers who were searching for maps, electronic devices or other items while driving account for about 2% of fatal crashes. Drivers should pull over to a safe area and stop before searching for any items in the vehicle.
Drivers who were distracted by or talking to their passenger friends while on the road accounted for about 5% of fatal crashes. Although it may be tempting to converse with friends while driving, it is important to stay focused on the road and surroundings at all times.
Every driver has seen a distracting billboard, crash or other event outside. Many people crane their necks or slow down to look. These are dangerous habits, and about 7% of accidents were caused by such behaviors. Drivers should always avoid slowing down for outside distractions.
Talking, texting or reading cell phones while driving are all common ways people cause accidents. In several states, it is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving. Texting while driving is illegal in almost 40 states. About 12% of fatal crashes happen as a result of cell phones. A person who is texting and driving is more likely to cause an accident than an intoxicated driver. In addition to this, more than 11 teen deaths per day and 1.5 million accidents per year are caused by drivers who are texting. To avoid the temptation, consider installing special software to disable the phone while the vehicles are moving.
Lost In Thought
There are endless things a person could possibly be thinking about while driving. Whether a driver is looking for an address, trying to listen to the radio or daydreaming, accidents caused by general distractions account for more than 60% of all fatal crashes. It is important to stay mentally focused at all times. Safe driving practices should be displayed at all times while on the road; this prevents accidents for yourself and other driver as well as maintains lower insurance rates.
While this list is only a brief representation of potential driving distractions, it is important to stay alert and and keep your full attention on the road being aware of visual, manual and cognitive functions. Safe driving means driving without distractions. As presented by NHTSA - put it down and just drive.
Sources: www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving www.nhtsa.gov.edgesuite-staging.net/Driving+Safety/Distracted+Driving/Policy+Statement+and+Compiled+FAQs+on+Distracted+Driving www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving-awareness-month.aspx