Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous things a motorist can engage in, and yet, at any given second of daylight, 660,000 people are using a cell phone or other electronic device while behind the wheel. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Why has this become so rampant in our society? Even the most cautious driver will admit to checking a text at a red light every once in awhile. Across the nation, we have become united by a bad habit instead of becoming united against those who insist on getting behind the wheel with their attention diverted elsewhere.
But distracted driving doesn’t just mean checking a texting. It covers a myriad of things I’m sure all of us has been guilty of at one time or another since getting behind the wheel for the first time. Below are the basics of distracted driving, and what to be aware of so you can avoid it.
What is distracted driving?
Driving a vehicle engages three different types of attention: manual, visual, and cognitive attention. Distracted driving is anything that diverts one or more of these attentions away from the road, putting yourself and other drivers around you at risk. These distractions include:
· Talking on the phone (even if it’s hands-free, your mind is still not entirely focused on driving.)
· Any usage of a cell phone or smartphone, including navigation systems
· Grooming, including makeup application, hair care, and shaving (it totally happens...trust me.)
· Reading, including maps
· Talking and carrying on with passengers in the car
· Eating or drinking
· Changing the radio or CD player
· Adjusting temperature controls, or other controls, on the console.
How can you avoid it?
The best way to avoid distracted driving is to simply remove the temptation. By putting your phone on silent in the glove box, or somewhere else out of sight, you won’t hear any notifications go off, and you won’t see a screen light up.
If you’re expecting an important call or text that simply can’t wait, pull over and check it.
If you’re lost, pull off on the shoulder and queue up your navigation.
If you need to adjust the controls because the A/C has done its job and made your car a mobile Arctic Circle, do so while the car is stationary, and try to do it without taking your eyes off the road.
Distracted driving is 100% avoidable if people make the choice to break the habit. The world is crazy enough as it is without having to wonder if we’re going to get in a wreck every time we need to run out on an errand. So the next time you get behind the wheel, make the choice to be completely present during the task at hand: getting from point A to point B safely.