Distracted driving is one of the most widespread, yet dangerous habits that motorists engage in. Most of the time, such actions are undertaken with conscious consequences behind them! For example, most people know that it is against the law to text or otherwise handle a mobile phone when operating a vehicle.
Yet many brush off the potential consequences, often justifying the decision by reducing it to “just a quick glance.” Fewer people, however, know the countless other actions that constitute distracted driving. According to several disturbing distracted driving statistics, it is essential to fully understand how dangerous these actions are and learn how to protect yourself from other drivers engaging in them.
What is Distracted Driving?
Although texting and driving is one of the most prevalent examples of distracted driving, the habit in no way represents all the possible ways in which a driver may be guilty of taking their eyes off the road. Distracted driving is defined as any act a motorist is engaging in that takes their eyes and attention off the road when driving.
According to data gathered from the federal database forming the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the following actions also constitute distracted driving:
- Smoking (1% of recorded distracted driving collisions reported in the last few years)
- Pets or insects inside the cabin (1%)
- Fidgeting with radio, navigation, air conditioner, or other device or dashboard controls (4%)
- Eating behind the wheel (2%)
- Reaching down or behind the driver’s seat, looking for lost objects in the cabin (2%)
- Distracted by the scenery outside the vehicle (7%)
- Chatting with or looking at passengers (5%)
Most people attributed this negligent driving habit to daydreaming or otherwise simply being distracted in general, not by any specific cause. This is an especially common occurrence that many people do not notice until too late. On long drivers, for example, it is normal to “zone out” and lose your focus on the road and your environment. While it seems silly and inconsequential, it could result in a devastating loss, whether it be property damages, injuries, or the loss of someone’s life.
The Consequences of Distracted Driving
Each day in the United States, nine people lose their lives in collisions caused by distracted drivers. At the same time, approximately 1,000 more victims are injured by similar circumstances. The consequences are so extensive because the distraction is not as simple as a driver “not looking” at their surroundings, but experiencing the following effects:
- Cognitive: If you are “zoning out,” you are mentally detached from their current circumstances, making it as if you are not controlling the vehicle at all.
- Manual: If you’re trying to search on the floor or the backseat, your hands are not holding the wheel as they should be, reducing your ability to respond to sudden changes in surrounding traffic.
- Visual: Fixating your gaze on anything other than your mirrors and the road for an extended period is directly interrupting your awareness, and therefore, your ability to safely share the road with others.
These effects are the reason why 1.6 million of all car crashes occur each year in the U.S. Protect yourself and others from the harm of this habit by removing all possible distractions from your vehicle before getting on the road. Drive only when you are alert and awake, as well, and you will not only avoid becoming a danger to others but know how to spot a distracted driver if ever the circumstances came about.