The modern world offers countless conveniences and technological advances, many of which impact road safety. Although some advances are undeniably positive, from navigation systems to smartphones, drivers now navigate more potential distractions than ever as well. Many of these conveniences come at a high risk.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents on the nation’s roads. More than 1,000 people are injured in distracted driving crashes each day, and nine people are killed daily as a result of these collisions as well. Understanding this serious safety issue, including the types of distractions that may serve as hazards, can help everyone be more proactive about remaining undistracted while they’re on the road.
Visual distractions pull your eyes off the road
Visual distractions are anything that causes a driver to divert their eyes from the roadway. This can include checking a text message, looking at a billboard, glancing at a GPS or even turning to speak to someone in the backseat. Taking one’s eyes off the road for even a few seconds can result in missing crucial information, such as a pedestrian crossing or the car’s brake lights ahead, that requires a driver to react.
Cognitive distractions occupy your mind
While many might believe that as long as their eyes are on the road, they’re safe, cognitive distractions prove otherwise. These are distractions that take your mind off driving. Daydreaming, being lost in thought or having a deep conversation can all be cognitive distractions. When your mind isn’t entirely focused on driving, your reaction time slows, and your decision-making ability becomes impaired.
Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel
Manual distractions cause drivers to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel. Activities like eating, adjusting the radio or searching for something in a bag can all be manual distractions. Even something as simple as taking a sip from a water bottle means a driver’s complete control over the vehicle is momentarily compromised.
Even split-second distractions can turn fatal
Many drivers believe a glance at their phone or a brief moment of inattention is harmless. However, reality paints a grimmer picture. A child might run onto the road in the few seconds that a driver’s attention is diverted, or a car might suddenly stop. These split-second distractions can, and often do, lead to tragic consequences. Whether it’s a severe injury or even a fatality, the potential price of a momentary distraction is far too high.