Distracted Driving Prevention: What You Need to Know
These days, distracted driving is a very real problem on United States motorways. According to the NHTSA, about 10% of fatal car accidents and 15% of injury accidents are related to distracted driving. More than ever, motorists need to be aware of what constitutes distracted driving, the associated risks, and what they can do to keep the roadways safer.
What is Inattentive Driving?
There are three different types of inattentive driving (also known as distracted driving), which include:
- cognitive - anything that takes your mind away from focusing on the road in front of you. This could include driving while sleep deprived; your mind may drift off and not be able to focus on what's going on around you, creating a risk to yourself and other drivers.
- visual - anything that physically distracts you from paying attention to the road. This may include bright sunlight getting into your eyes, causing you to squint or close your eyes while driving.
- manual - anything that literally requires you to remove your hands from the wheel while driving. Perhaps the most common example of a manual distraction would be picking up your cell phone to send a text or post on social media while driving.
All three forms of inattentive driving can have disastrous consequences. Furthermore, some forms of distracted driving can fall into more than one category at a time. For example, sending a text message from your phone while driving can cause manual, visual, and cognitive distractions that can put you at serious risk of causing an accident.
Dangers of Distracted Drivers
All too often, people don't take distracted driving seriously enough. This is made clear by the fact that more than 36% of drivers admit to using their cell phones while behind the wheel on a regular basis, according to a study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
There are many specific dangers that can be directly caused by distracted driving. Consider, for example, how taking your eyes off the road can affect your reaction time. Even looking away from the road for a few seconds could put you and other drivers in danger, especially if a driver in front of you is forced to slam on their brakes for any reason. Your delayed reaction could easily cause an accident since your stopping distance will be greatly reduced.
Taking your focus off the road for even a small amount of time can also lead to your vehicle veering out of your lane or into the path of another vehicle. You may not realize this until it's too late and an accident becomes unavoidable. The same applies to distracted driving situations where you look away from the road for long enough to miss a traffic light or stop sign. These kinds of accidents are so easily avoidable, yet people are injured and killed every day as a result of inattentive driving.
Avoiding Distracted Driving: Tips and Tricks
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to avoid become distracted as a driver. When you get into the car, silence your cell phone and place it in your glove box so you aren't tempted to pick it up if you hear a notification go off. Many cars now are even equipped with hands-free features that can cut back on distractions.
Cell phone use isn't the only cause of distracted driving, of course. Keep the volume on your radio down to a reasonable volume while driving so you can still hear sirens if an emergency vehicle is approaching. You should also refrain from eating, drinking, or putting on makeup while driving. Pull off safely to the side of the road if you need to engage in any of these activities.
Be on the defensive when it comes to other distracted drivers, too. If you notice a driver on his or her cell phone while driving near you, keep your distance; you never know when they could drift out of their lane or make another dangerous move. Report seriously distracted drivers to local police, providing the dispatcher with a description of the vehicle (including license plate number, if possible) along with their location and direction of travel.
Time to Review Your Auto Insurance Coverage
Now is also a good time to review your auto insurance coverage and make sure you have the right protection in place, should you ever be involved in an accident with a distracted driver. This includes not just basic property damage and liability coverage, but comprehensive and collision coverage for any damage done to your personal property.
Hopefully, you'll never be involved in an accident caused by distracted driving. By keeping these tips in mind and taking time to review your auto insurance coverage, you can enjoy greater confidence behind the wheel.