Distracted driving is number four in the “Fatal Four” that causes about 25% of all driving fatalities. It’s six times more likely to lead to a car accident than driving drunk. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving. It includes talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, or anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.
Driving distractions fall into one of three categories:
- Manual: Anything that involves taking your hands off the wheel.
- Visual: Actions that take your eyes off the road.
- Cognitive: Activities that take your mind off driving.
Texting is considered the most dangerous form of distraction because it involves all three distraction categories. Consequently, most states have declared texting while driving to be illegal.
According to the NHTSA, 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving. Distracted driving claimed 2,841 of those lives in 2018.
You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of an accident.
Safe driving is only accomplished when the driver is sober and focused.
Below is a list of examples of distracted driving behaviors that increase the likelihood that you will have an accident:
- being cognitively distracted or “lost in thought;”
- using a cell phone (talking, watching, listening, texting);
- rubbernecking or staring at something of interest such as a person, object, or event;
- talking and looking at other vehicle occupants;
- reaching for devices, coffee, food, or cell phones;
- eating or drinking;
- adjusting vehicle devices/controls such as rearview mirrors, radios, climate controls, or seats;
- disruptive objects such as pets or insects in the vehicle; and
- smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in the ashtray, etc.