Distracted Driving – The 10 Most Dangerous Distractions

Did you know that a total of 9 people die every day due to a distraction behind the wheel? According to the DMV , this number is on the rise and it appears to be turning into an epidemic. This is easy to prevent if drivers stay focused on the road. 

So in this article, we share some of the most common distractions behind the wheel and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim of statistics. Join the movement to end distracted driving:

Visual distractions

In an age dominated by technology, it is to be imagined that electronic devices are one of the main elements that distract the driver. They look away from the steering wheel to look at the text message that just arrived or to see the directions on the GPS.

Other visual distractions include: Searching for something in your car, putting on makeup, adjusting the temperature, or changing radio stations.

Manual distractions

Unlike visual distractions, with manual distractions the driver often takes their hands off the wheel. This usually happens when one is eating or looking for something inside the car.It is also common for the driver to be distracted by lighting a cigarette or putting ashes in the ashtray. 

If you’ve been thinking about quitting for a while and you had no reason to do so, here’s one more to add to the list. Some of the most common reasons for manual distractions include: searching for items in your purse or backpack, adjusting the child’s seat, or paying attention to moving objects including pets.

Cognitive distractions

Finally, there are those distractions known as cognitive and that refer to when your mind does not pay attention to the road. This can happen because you are talking to a passenger and paying more attention to the conversation than to the road.

On many occasions, it also happens that the driver is distracted due to some concern related to family/friends or work, or also because they start to daydream about future plans and focus on something else.

Unfortunately, many accidents also have to do with fearful driving due to the driver’s anger or being drunk. It is very likely that, under these circumstances, you will not be conscious and will make sudden maneuvers.

The 10 most dangerous distractions

Based on the three categories we have mentioned, here is the list of activities that are most distracting to drivers and that have caused at least one fatality in an accident:

10. Smoking

In one percent of fatal crashes, one of the drivers was smoking, lighting a cigarette, or dumping ashes. Smoking causes you to take at least one of your hands off the wheel and take your eyes off the road when you light or shake a cigarette. All of this can be very dangerous, not to mention how dangerous smoking is for your body.

9. Moving objects, including pets and insects

One percent of the police reports analyzed cite moving objects as the distraction that caused the accident. This could be an over-excited dog, a bee flying through an open window, a drink falling from a cup holder, and so on. These objects can be very distracting to a driver, who may become frightened or try to grasp what is moving.

8. Use of car devices

Another percent of fatal distractions involve manipulating parts such as mirrors, seats, and in-car navigation systems. That is why it is very important to adjust your seat and mirrors before starting your vehicle. Also, program your navigation system before you start driving. If you get lost and need to turn on the system while driving, stop and then do it.

7. Sound or temperature adjustment

Two percent of drivers admitted that the accident that caused death was caused by them adjusting the volume on their radio or other similar distraction. Set your radio to the desired station and volume before you start driving. Also set your air conditioning or heater to a temperature that you are comfortable with. If you need to adjust the sound or the temperature while driving, ask a passenger to do it for you. If you are driving alone, wait until your car comes to a stop at a stop light or sign, or stop on the side of the road.

6. Eat or drink

Another two percent of drivers were eating or drinking when they caused a fatal accident. Never eat while driving! Use the self-service only if you are going to eat in a rest area or in another location. Otherwise, go into the establishment and eat there. The time you would save by eating while driving is not worth your life or the lives of others around you.

5. Using or reaching for a device in the vehicle

The most common things that another two percent of drivers tried to reach were a GPS or headphones. Another common element can be the auxiliary cable. Taking a hand off the steering wheel can cause an accident, and you may have to shift your gaze from the road to find the device.

4. Other people in the vehicle

Five percent of the drivers involved in these accidents were talking or looking at a passenger. Try not to have any distracting conversations, and never take your eyes off the road to look at someone in your car.

3. Snoop

Snooping is when an accident or other distraction occurs outside of the vehicle and the driver turns his head to watch the drama. This was the cause of seven percent of the accidents. Snooping can be tempting, but avoiding looking at the crash area being cleaned up can prevent you from having your own accident.

2. Cell Phones

Using your cell phone while driving is incredibly dangerous. Drivers using their cell phones to talk or text accounted for 12 percent of distracted drivers. Texting is the worst way to use your cell phone while driving, which is why many states have passed laws that make it illegal. 

1. Daydreaming

Have you ever come to your house and realize that you did not pay attention to how you got there? Driving in this manner accounted for a staggering 62 percent of fatal accidents in the study. Do your best to stay as alert as possible while driving. Even if you’ve been driving the same route for years, don’t trust your autopilot. Keep your thoughts focused on driving.

How to reduce distractions behind the wheel

Now that you know some of the most common cases of distracted driving, what can you do to stay safe on the road? Creating new habits in the way you drive can make a big change in your safety and that of your passengers.

Before you hit the gas, make sure you put the address into your GPS. Check the mirrors and your seat. Are you comfortable? If you plan to turn on the radio or some paid music service, tune in to the station you want to listen to.

Once you’re on the road, keep your eyes on the vehicles in front of you. If you are traveling with people, ask your birders to make the necessary changes to the radio and keep the conversion light. 

Don’t have arguments while driving. Don’t eat either, and don’t use your cell phone. That text message you just received can wait.

Lastly, it is important that you feel rested when you are behind the wheel. Stay calm and if you see symptoms of tiredness or sleepiness, pull off the road and rest.

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