According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,400 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2015. Nearly 400,000 more were injured. Drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road. This involves driving in a safe and responsible manner, obeying all federal and state traffic laws, and avoiding distractions.
There are 3 main types of distractions:
- Visual distractions. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. Looking at a GPS or cell phone, gazing at the scenery, or searching the backseat for something are a few examples of visual distractions. While driving, it is necessary to scan the road for obstacles and check your mirrors periodically. If you take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds, you will be unable to notice when other cars enter your lane or a light turns red.
- Manual distractions. Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel. Without having both hands firmly on the wheel, you may be unable to make quick evasive maneuvers to avoid an accident. Furthermore, if you are holding something in your hand, you will have a difficult time turning, using your signals, and parking. Holding a drink or sandwich, fiddling with the A/C controls or radio, programming your GPS, texting, and searching your purse or wallet for an item are examples of manual distractions. It is important to keep your hands on the wheel at all times so you can react quickly to dangerous situations.
- Cognitive distractions. Cognitive distractions take your mind off of driving. Even if your eyes are on the road and both hands are on the wheel, you may still be at risk for a crash because of cognitive distractions. Daydreaming, thinking about family or work issues, or having a heated argument with a passenger are examples of cognitive distractions. If you aren’t focused on the road, you will be unable to identify obstacles in time to avoid a collision.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
It is important to adjust your GPS and A/C controls before starting out. Furthermore, you should make sure all children are buckled into their seats, and all pets are safely stored in carriers. It is also a good idea to eat before or after your trip so you don’t have hold food or drinks while you drive. You should also turn your cell phone off and stay mentally focused on the road.
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