Although many people think of distracted driving as one particular type of problem, experts actually tend to break it down into three subcategories. The differences between these categories can be useful when examining what exactly constitutes distracted driving and what dangers it poses. The categories are as follows:
- Visual distracted driving in which the driver stops looking at the road
- Manual distracted driving in which the driver’s hands leave the wheel
- Cognitive distracted driving in which the driver fails to pay active attention to the road
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,179 people died and 431,000 were injured in 2014 because of accidents caused by distracted drivers. This problem is only becoming more significant and harder to eradicate due to the prevalence of cell phones and the many other distractions that are becoming ubiquitous in cars, such as video screens and GPS systems. Texting while driving is often seen as most dangerous, and it is indeed risky because it involves all three types of distraction. But answering a call while driving also pulls attention away from driving, and sometimes it pulls hands away from the wheel, too. It’s also crucial to remember that, although you may not text and drive, everyone is at risk for distracted driving because anyone can get distracted by something while on the road.
Of course, you cannot control the actions of other drivers, but there are certain steps you can take to limit the likelihood that you yourself will cause a distracted driving collision. They are as follows:
- Refrain from eating, drinking, or performing any personal care activities (such as combing your hair) while driving.
- Don’t reset your GPS while driving; make sure it’s correctly programmed before you start your car.
- Turn off your phone so that incoming calls don’t take your attention. If you must have it on in case of an emergency, make sure you have a hands-free device that you are comfortable operating quickly and effectively.
- Make sure any children or pets are securely belted in before you start driving so that you don’t need to make any adjustments while on the road.
- Don’t try to get things out of the glove compartment or a bag while you’re driving. If you have to get something in a hard-to-reach place, pull over to locate it.
- When talking with passengers, make sure you aren’t so invested in the conversation that you’re forgetting to pay close attention to the road.
With a better understanding of the types of distracted driving and the risks they pose, hopefully we can create safer roads for everyone.