Distracted driving has become a safety hot topic in recent years. Policymakers and law enforcement officers recognize that distraction contributes to a large number of crashes. Public awareness campaigns have helped ensure that most people know how dangerous it is to read a text message or type out an email while in control of a motor vehicle.
However, mobile devices are not the only source of distraction that can lead to motor vehicle collisions. There are many other forms of distraction that people think aren’t a safety issue. The four forms of distraction below are incredibly common and often overlooked by drivers.
1. Children in the vehicle
Driving with your children, especially when they are young or they frequently antagonize each other, can mean a huge amount of distraction. Children ask questions, start fights with one another and place a constant demand on the attention of the person driving the vehicle. Adults often assume that they can split their attention between their kids and the road, but safety experts indicate that children in vehicles are a leading cause of distraction and collisions.
2. Built-in screens and GPS devices
While you know that picking up your phone is dangerous, did you know that scrolling through radio stations on the console touchscreen in your vehicle is also a serious form of distraction? People tend to think that the screens installed by manufacturers aren’t risky, when anything that takes your eyes off the road is a distraction. GPS devices, both built-in and standalone units, are also a source of distraction when people reprogram them during a drive.
3. Eating and drinking
Many people finish their morning coffee on the way to work or grab a quick lunch from a fast food restaurant while on their way to a meeting for a service call. Unfortunately, anything hot that you spill could produce a sudden pain response, leading to you jerking the steering wheel and possibly causing a crash. The act of eating is itself a distraction, as you take your hands off the wheel and mentally focus on your beverage or food item.
4. Hands-free systems
Many people think that hands-free systems for text messages or phone calls eliminate the distraction involved, but all they do is allow you to keep your hands on the steering wheel. Talk-to-text software often leads to people staring at the screen to catch typos, and hands-free phone calls often lead to people becoming emotional and distracted by the conversation. Even other passengers in your vehicle can lead to conversation-related distraction and possibly a crash.
Once you identify all the different sources of distraction that can put your safety at risk, you will be in a better position to make smart choices at the wheel. Avoiding common causes of motor vehicle collisions can help reduce your likelihood of getting hurt in a crash.