How to Avoid Distracted Driving and Stay Focused Behind the Wheel
Distracted driving has emerged as one of the leading causes of accidents and injuries while on the road and is attributed to between 15 and 25 percent of all car related incidences. It may not seem like it but when a driver takes their eyes off the road, even for a split second to change the radio or put down the window, they not only put their safety at risk but also the safety of other drivers. Operating a vehicle is a complex task and requires a driver’s full attention in order to guarantee a high level of safety.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is defined as any activity in or around a vehicle that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. In day to day driving, distractions are abundant – talking to others in the car, eating on the go, and checking on children in the back seat are common distractions that compromise safety. The three main types of distractions are visual, which take driver’s eyes off the road, manual, which cause driver’s hands to come off the wheel, and cognitive, which take the driver’s mind off the task at hand.
Properly Managing Driving Distractions
Although distractions while driving may seem inevitable, there are ways that distractions can be managed. First, and most importantly, it is vital to put away cell phones and other electronic devices – the recent epidemic of texting and driving has made this one of the top reasons for accidents on the road. Other preventative measures are making sure children and pets are properly secured before starting a trip, setting a GPS route ahead of time, and not eating or drinking behind the wheel.
Teens and Distracted Driving
Young drivers are more vulnerable to giving into distractions while driving than older, more experienced motorists. Teens are more likely to read and send text messages, get distracted talking to passengers, and trying to multitask while behind the wheel. Because of this, it is important for parents to take a strong stance against cell phone use and distracted driving while communicating to young drivers the realistic dangers of engaging in risky behavior while on the road.
In 2009, more than 5,000 deaths and over 400,000 injuries were attributed to distracted driving. These statistics are staggering and drive home that distracted driving is dangerous and can come with serious consequences. By putting away the cell phone, planning ahead for trips, and eliminating other hazardous behavior while behind the wheel, distracted driving incidents can be all but prevented. Remember – every time your eyes come off the road for more than two seconds, you are putting your life at risk.
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*Photo Courtesy of Mike Burns via Creative Commons License