Distracted driving is a public health issue that affects everyone in America. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The latest statistics show motor vehicle fatalities are up 6% from 2015. More than 40,000 people were killed on our nation’s roadways each of the previous two years. Distracted driving is a major contributor.
When thinking or discussing distracted driving, far too many people think distracted driving starts and ends with the cell phone, but there are many other ways a driver can be distracted when behind the wheel. The three main ways someone can be distracted when behind the wheel deal with manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. Here is an in-depth description of each type of distraction with examples of each.
Manually Distracted Driving
The first and foremost type of distraction any driver faces when behind the wheel is anything that causes a driver to take one or both hands off of the steering wheel. This can be from eating or drinking while in the car, adjusting a GPS unit, getting something out of a purse or wallet, or sending a full text message. No matter how small the distraction may seem, it can lead to serious consequences when a distracted driver becomes the victim of a car crash.
Visual Distracted Driving
There are a number of types of visual distractions a driver can face while operating a motor vehicle. Some visual distractions cause the drivers visual field to be blocked. This can occur because of heavy rain and inadequate windshield wipers. It can also occur when a driver is moving and the back windshield is blocked by the goods being moved. A visual distraction can occur when a driver decides not to look in a certain area before making a move behind the wheel. This can be as simple as not looking both ways at a stop sign. It can be not turning your head to observe the lane you are about to turn in to, instead just relying on the mirrors. Additional visual distractions can come when the driver actually looks at something not related to the act of driving. This can be a clever billboard on the side of the highway or a funny video your friend in the passenger seat wants you to view. No matter what type of visual distraction someone faces when behind the wheel, it is extremely important for the driver to do everything possible to keep their attention on the act of driving.
Cognitively Distracted Driving
The final type of distracted driving deals with the drivers cognitive ability to pay attention to the task of driving. There are many things that can contribute to this type of a distraction. One of the most common is talking on the phone with a hands-free device like a bluetooth. This type of distraction can also come in the form of an in-depth conversation with a significant other or a person getting excited when their new favorite song comes on the radio. The main danger with cognitive distractions is that in our society today we are constantly inundated with distractions. Because of these distractions we get comfortable doing two things at once, but that is a false sense of security when you get behind the wheel of a car. When you are behind the wheel of a car, the stakes are far to high to risk driving while distracted.