This is a serious issue that causes thousands of accidents every year, resulting in injuries and fatalities. To prevent more such car accidents from occurring, it’s crucial to understand how to avoid distracted driving.
In 2019, distracted driving took the lives of 3,142 people in the USA, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to avoid distracted driving. This can help you protect yourself and others on roadways.
In this article, we’ll explore the definition of distracted driving, the various types of distractions, and provide practical tips to help you stay focused and alert while driving.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving refers to the practice of driving while participating in any task that draws the driver’s focus away from the road. These activities can encompass a broad range, including texting, talking on the phone, tuning the radio, eating, drinking, grooming, and even being lost in thought. It is a major contributing factor to car accidents, personal injuries, and fatalities on the roadways.
The three fundamental categories of distracted driving are visual distraction, manual distraction, and cognitive distraction. Visual distractions happen when the driver looks away from the road, like when reading a map or sending a text. Manual distractions happen when the driver removes their hands from the steering wheel, such as when eating or drinking. Cognitive distractions happen when the driver’s attention wanders away from the task of driving, like when daydreaming or talking on the phone.
The consequences of distracted driving can be severe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, distracted driving was a factor in 9% of all fatal crashes and 15% of all injury crashes. In addition to the physical harm caused by accidents, distracted driving can also lead to legal consequences, such as fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment in some cases.
To avoid distracted driving, it’s important to be aware of the different types of distractions and take proactive steps to avoid them. This can include turning off your phone, limiting passengers, avoiding eating or drinking, and taking breaks when needed. By keeping your focus on driving and avoiding distractions, you can help make our roads safer for everyone.
Types of distracted driving
There are 3 types of distracted driving. They are as follows.
1. Visual Distractions
Visual distractions are the most common form of distracted driving, and they occur when drivers take their eyes off the roadway. Visual distractions can be anything that catches the driver’s attention, such as billboards, electronic devices, scenery, or even people or objects outside the vehicle.
Examples of visual distractions include:
- Texting, emailing, or browsing the internet on a mobile phone or tablet
- Watching videos on a mobile device or DVD player
- Applying makeup, shaving, or grooming
- Looking at a GPS or navigation system
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, or music playlist
- Looking at passengers or objects outside the car
- Reading a book or a map
2. Manual Distractions
Manual distractions occur when drivers take their hands off the steering wheel, which can cause them to lose control of the vehicle or fail to react in time to avoid a collision. Common manual distractions include:
- Eating or drinking
- Smoking or vaping
- Adjusting seat belts or air conditioning
- Applying sunscreen, hand lotion, or insect repellent
- Searching for or retrieving objects from pockets, purses, or bags
3. Cognitive Distractions
Cognitive distractions occur when drivers’ minds are not focused on driving, which can cause them to miss critical information or fail to react in time to avoid a collision. Common cognitive distractions include:
- Daydreaming or being lost in thought
- Talking on the phone or texting
- Listening to loud music or podcasts
- Engaging in heated or emotional conversations with passengers
- Driving while fatigued or drowsy
Examples of Distracted Driving
There are many distracted driving examples, and it’s important to be aware of them to avoid putting yourself and others in danger. Here are some common examples of distracted driving:
- Texting or using a phone: This is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, as it involves all three distractions all at once.
- Eating or drinking: Taking your hands off the wheel to eat or drink can cause a manual distraction, while also taking your focus away from the road.
- Grooming: Applying makeup, fixing hair, or other grooming activities can take your eyes and hands off the road.
- Reading: Trying to read a book, map, or even a GPS device while driving can be a major distraction.
- Passengers: Having passengers in the car can be distracting, especially if they’re rowdy or demand your attention.
- Daydreaming: This is a cognitive distraction that can cause you to lose focus.
- Adjusting the radio or temperature controls: These activities may seem harmless, but taking your eyes or hands off the road, even for a second, can be dangerous.
By being aware of these examples of distracted driving as well as taking steps to avoid them, you can help prevent accidents.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
Driving while distracted is a major problem, but there are many steps you can take to avoid it. By being proactive and being focused on driving, you can help prevent accidents and keep yourself and others safe. Here are some tips on how to avoid distracted driving.
Put away your phone
Using a phone while driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. To avoid this, put your phone away while driving, or use a hands-free device if you must make a call or send a text. Many smartphones also have a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature, which can automatically silence notifications and calls when you’re driving.
Before you hit the road, plan your route and any stops you need to make. This can help you avoid the need to use your phone or engage in other distractions while driving. It’s also a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, so you’re not rushed or tempted to speed.
Avoid eating or drinking while driving
Eating or drinking while driving can cause a manual distraction, taking your hands off the wheel and making it harder to stay in control. For food breaks, stop at a safe spot and take a break from driving.
Keep your passengers under control
Passengers can be a major source of distraction while driving, especially if they’re rowdy or demanding your attention. To avoid this, set clear expectations with the passengers in your car before you hit the road. Let them know that you need to focus on driving and ask them to keep noise levels down and avoid distracting you while you’re driving.
Use voice commands or hands-free technology
If it’s crucial to use your phone or other electronic devices while driving, try to use voice commands or hands-free technology. This can help minimize manual and visual distractions, allowing you to stay focused.
Take breaks when needed
Driving for long periods of time can be tiring, and fatigue can cause you to become distracted or lose focus. To avoid this, take breaks when needed and stretch your legs. This can help you stay alert and focused on the path ahead.
Limit other distractions
There are many other distractions that can take your focus away from the road, like adjusting the radio or temperature controls, applying makeup, or reading a map. To avoid these distractions, try to finish these activities before you hit the road. Alternatively, you can stop at a safe place if you absolutely must adjust them while driving.
Set a good example for others
Finally, it’s important to set a good example for others on the road. Avoid distracted driving yourself, and encourage others to do the same. You can also help raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving by participating in events like Distracted Driving Awareness Month and sharing resources and information with your family and friends.
How to Encourage others to avoid distracted driving
If you want to make a difference in your community and help prevent distracted driving, there are many ways you can get involved. Here are a few ideas:
- Share your personal story: If you’ve been affected by distracted driving, share your story with others to raise awareness about the issue and encourage safer driving habits.
- Organize a community event: Host a distracted driving awareness event in your community, such as a rally, walk, or fundraiser. This can help raise awareness and encourage people to take action to prevent distracted driving.
- Talk to your family and friends: Encourage your family and friends to avoid distractions while driving. Remind them of the risks and consequences of distracted driving.
- Advocate for change: Write to your local lawmakers or participate in advocacy efforts to support distracted driving laws and initiatives that promote safer driving.
By taking these steps, you can make a difference in your community and help prevent distracted driving accidents. Remember, every action counts, and together we can create a safer and more responsible driving culture.
PSA distracted driving: A call to action
Public service announcements (PSAs) are an effective way to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. These messages can reach a wide audience and encourage drivers to change their behavior and adopt safer driving habits. Here are some examples of PSA messages that can help prevent distracted driving:
- “It Can Wait”: This campaign, launched by AT&T, encourages drivers to put away their phones while driving. The message is simple but powerful, reminding drivers that no text or call is worth the risk of their lives or those of others.
- “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.“: This PSA from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlights the dangers of texting while driving. The message is reinforced by stark images of car wrecks and statistics on the number of fatalities caused by distracted driving.
- “Heads Up, Phone Down”: This campaign, launched by the city of Philadelphia, encourages drivers to keep their eyes on the path and their phones out of sight. The message is supported by billboards, bus ads, and social media posts, all designed to remind drivers of the importance of staying focused while driving.
- “Distraction-free Driving Starts with You”: This PSA from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety emphasizes the role that individual drivers can play in preventing distracted driving. The message encourages drivers to take responsibility for their own behavior and make a commitment to stay focused on driving.
In addition to these campaigns, there are many other ways that PSAs can help raise awareness about distracted driving. For example, local law enforcement agencies can create PSAs that highlight the consequences of distracted driving while also encouraging drivers to obey traffic laws. Community groups can also create PSAs that target specific populations, such as teens or seniors, and provide tips on how to stay safe on roads.
In conclusion, PSA driving campaigns are an effective way to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. By creating powerful messages that resonate with drivers, we can encourage them to change their behavior and adopt safer driving habits. Reminding drivers to put away their phones, keep their eyes on the path, or take responsibility for their own behavior. These are all examples of how PSAs can help prevent accidents and keep our roads safe for everyone. So the next time you see a PSA driving campaign, remember that it’s a call to action – and it’s up to all of us to make a difference.
Drive safe, arrive safe!
By following the tips outlined in this article, you can help prevent distracted driving to make the roads safer for everyone. Remember, avoiding distractions while driving is not just a good habit – it’s a responsibility that we all share. If you or a loved one has been affected by a distracted driving accident, don’t hesitate to contact Krasney Law. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you navigate the legal process and get the compensation you deserve!