Distracted Driving: Tips for Staying Focus on The Road
Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
Distracting driving has three components to it: visual, cognitive, and manual. Visual distraction occurs when a driver looks at anything other than the road ahead. This includes drivers who check their kid’s seat belts, playing with the GPS or radio, and setting up portable digital entertainment systems all while driving. Cognitive distraction is when a driver’s mind is not focused on driving. Examples of this would be talking to a passenger, being preoccupied with personal, family, or work-related issues, listening to a show or book on the radio, or listening to loud, distracting music. Manuel distraction is when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel for any reason. Some common examples of manual distraction include eating and drinking while driving, adjusting the GPS or radio, trying to get something from your purse, wallet, or bag, or fiddling in the middle console.
Texting or talking on the phone while driving is particularly dangerous because it involves all three forms of distracted driving.
Tips for Eliminating Distractions When Driving
Here are some tips to help you stay focused on the road and eliminate all distractions:
- Turn off your cell phone while driving—even if you’re expecting an important business call
- If you need to be reached at all times, invest in a hands-free device to use when needed—even though a device can be hands-free eliminating manual distraction, you are still engaging in cognitive distraction
- When driving with children or pets, make sure that the kids are securely strapped in and pets are in their carriers before you begin your drive—if they need your attention during the drive, pull over before handling the situation
- Eat before or after you drive—trust us, it can wait
- Program your GPS before you leave the driveway—if your GPS gives you trouble while in route to your destination, pull over and adjust the settings
- Educate your kids who are new to driving about the consequences that can happen from distracted driving
- Practice safe driving in front of your kids and other passengers to set an example
Many states are starting to enact laws that ban distracted driving contributors, such as hand-held devices. Some states are even making an effort to stand against distracted driving by creating community campaigns that increase police enforcement, putting out radio advertisements and news stories on similar media, as well as visiting schools and talking to new drivers about the dangers that come with distracted driving.
Become a voice in the community to encourage others around you to be safe and distraction free while driving. Speaking out about the dangers of distracted drivers will open people’s eyes to what is at risk before it is too late.