You’re in your vehicle and hear your phone ding. It’s a notification from your best friend, and you instinctively reach for it. You realize that there’s someone in the other lane too late, and the last thing you hear is the terrifying sound of metal and screeching tires.
Situations like these kill approximately eight people a day in the United States. Distracted driving, or any activity that pulls your attention from the road, can be a safety hazard at best and life-ending at worst. More than three thousand people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019 alone. Learn about the types of distracted driving and what you can do to help prevent the statistics from increasing.
What is distracted driving?
Sending a quick text to your best friend, talking on a cell phone with your mother, or eating while driving are all examples of distracted driving. Despite having a broad definition, there are three main types of distractions while driving: visual, manual and cognitive.
Visual distractions occur when you remove your eyes from the road. Manual distractions include anything that takes your hands off the wheel. Lastly, cognitive distractions involve being mentally absent from the driving experience. Each type of distraction is equally dangerous, and it’s important to remain cautious of your driving patterns to ensure you haven’t integrated any of these bad habits into your driving routine.
Who is most likely to drive distracted?
It’s an unfortunate truth that teenagers and young adults are the biggest culprits for this poor behavior. In 2018, one fourth of all distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents were young adults between the ages of 20 to 29. Drivers that were aged 15 to 19 were still more likely to drive while distracted than those who were 20 and older. Actually, a total of nine percent of all teens who died in motor vehicle accidents were killed due to a distracted driver.
If you’re a part of this group of higher risk individuals, make sure you’re doing your part to avoid driving while distracted. Similarly, you should encourage anyone you may know in these at risk groups to practice mindful driving routines. This will benefit their personal safety and the safety of those around them.
How do I prevent it?
- Stop multi-tasking while driving. This includes looking for music on your phone, attempting to eat that delicious sandwich you just got at the drive thru, or even adjusting your mirrors. If you feel you’re unable to stop yourself, try downloading an app designed specifically to deter distracted driving.
- Speak up. If you’re a passenger in a distracted driver’s vehicle, tell the driver that you’re not comfortable with their behavior and remind them to focus on driving rather than finding the perfect song or sending a text to their friend.
- Educate any teens or young adults on the statistics, dangers and risks. The sooner they are informed, the sooner the reality of distracted driving will click with them. Spreading awareness will help reduce the amount of distracted driving, and it’s an easy way to do your part in reducing accidents