Distracted driving is almost as deadly as drunk driving. It causes thousands of collisions and fatalities across the country every year. People know how dangerous vehicles can be, but they try to multitask while driving or can’t bear to ignore their phones.
Distracted driving has always been an issue, but it has become more common in recent years with the rise of mobile technology. Most people now think of cellphones or built-in vehicle screens when they think of distracted driving. There’s no question that touch-screen technology, text messages and social media play an outsized role in distracted driving crashes.
However, you might engage in very dangerous behaviors on the road if you convince yourself that screen use is the only kind of distraction that is dangerous.
Many common driving activities are technically distractions
Do you eat a breakfast burrito during your morning commute every day? Eating and drinking are dangerous distractions because they distract your brain, eyes and hands, much like the phone does.
There is also the risk that you might spill something, either burning yourself or making you momentarily panic about the stain on your clothing. While you try to wipe the hot coffee off your legs or dab the mustard off your shirt, you could swerve across lanes of traffic or fail to notice someone stopping in front of you.
Other ways to pass the time, like singing along to the radio, talking to people on the phone or even engaging with your passengers can be distractions as well. So can taking your hands off the wheel to adjust the radio or reach for something in the next seat. You should keep your eyes on the road, your mind on driving and your hands on the wheel as much as possible for safety.
Don’t forget internal distraction
Although it is harder to measure and prove than other forms of distraction, experts estimate that internal distraction, like stressful preoccupation with work or daydreaming, contributes to a significant number of collisions every year. Although driving can seem dull, letting your mind wander could lead to you causing a wreck.
Understanding that many behaviors can constitute driving distraction can help you make better choices and to know when to take action if someone else causes a car crash.