Top 10 Deadliest Driving Distractions
Distracted driving is a serious driving issue in this country. Serious enough that 46 states have some sort of law that relates to distracted driving in some form or another whether it be texting and driving, eating and driving, or just actions loosely termed “distracting”. Yet, even with the law, distracted driving continues to kill more than 15 people and injure at least 1,2000 more every single day according to the Centers for Disease Control. Overall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that 16% of fatal car crashes and 21% of injury accidents can be attributed to driver distractions.
Distracted driving can include putting makeup on in the vehicle while driving, reading and driving (seriously, can you imagine reading a book while you drive), and of course, texting. Basically, anything that is distracting to the driver keeping their eyes and focus on the road falls under the definition of distracted driving. We have compiled a list of the top ten most dangerous distractions that have lead to many accidents and fatalities. This list may actually surprise you.
10. Smoking – Believe it or not, smoking does more than cause cancer; it can also cause automobile accidents. This is because the driver’s attention can be adverted fro the road when lighting their cigarette, putting it out in the ash tray, etc. 1% of distracted driving accidents and deaths can be blamed on smoking in the car.
9. Moving objects – Moving objects is yet another distraction. This can be anything from a dog in the car to an insect buzzing around. If you have your pet riding in the car with you, be sure to secure it in a pet restraint system or in a travel kennel. This not only makes travel safer for your pet, but it also helps minimize distractions. As for the flying insect, stop your vehicle before proceeding to shoo the insect out of the car.
8. Using other devices or controls that are part of the vehicle – This could mean a number of things, but more specifically it refers to navigation devices built into the vehicle. Be sure to input the address location and starting navigation before you begin driving. Also, make sure you navigation device has the sound on with step-by-step audio directions so that you can keep your eyes on the road (instead of on the navigation screen) while you drive.
7. Adjusting climate controls or radio – Thankfully, many cars come with the climate and audio controls now located on the steering wheel to minimize distractions. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t in every new car, and certainly not in older ones. Try to wait until you are stopped at a light to adjust these items. At minimum, keep your eyes directed on the road stretched out in front of you when adjusting these items – even 3 seconds of visual diversion can cause a fatal accident.
6. Eating or drinking – While it is actually illegal in many states to eat and drink while you drive, most everyone has been guilty of this. In our go-go-go world, it is difficult not to pull into a drive-thru and get your meal on the run. If you must eat/drink and drive, try to pick out items that are easy handle with just one hand. Things like fries, chicken nuggets, and drinks with a straw instead of a lid are easier items to handle while driving then a hamburger or pasta.
5. Reaching for a device brought into the vehicle – It is natural when you are driving along to throw items such as headphones, hand-held navigational device, and your cell phone over into the passenger seat for easy access. The problem is that reaching over to the other seat while you are driving isn’t very safe. In fact, it causes 2% of distracted driving accidents and fatalities. Wait until you are stopped or pull over to get your items if you must have them, or wait if you can.
4. Other occupants in the vehicle – Believe it or not, sometimes having your friends in the car makes for some dangerous driving! Something as innocent as glancing over at a friend while talking during driving can divert your attention long enough to have a wreck. Turning around to discipline a child in the backseat is yet another way having occupants in the car can distract a driver. This is why young drivers are advised not to have more than one passenger in their vehicle; too many distractions can be deadly and in this case it accounts for 5% of all distracted driving accidents.
3. People objects, and events outside of the vehicle – How many times have you been in bumper-to-bumper traffic for one accident, only to have it cause another accident due to people rubbernecking? I am sure if you have driven any length of time you have seen such phenomena. Sometimes things outside the vehicle can be very distracting and odd, we cannot help but want to look at it. Fight the urge, for your safety as well as the safety of those in your vehicle and on the road around you.
2. Cell Phone (talking, listening, dialing, texting) – We have all been told the dangers of texting and driving by now. No surprise it accounts for 12% of all fatal accidents. Cell phones may keep us connected socially now, but they certainly make the roads much more dangerous. Texting and driving is a no-no. Unless you have a “designated texter” in the vehicle to text for you, just don’t. As for talking on the phone, if you must take a call use a hands-free device or pull over to place a call.
And the #1 deadliest distraction while driving is…
1. Lost in thought – Driving on auto pilot with your mind off in lala-land is the most distracting thing you can do while driving. It actually accounts for 62% of all distracted driving. Keep your focus on the road!
There are many other ways a driver can be distracted from their drive, however; the items above seem to be the biggest distracting culprits in deadly automobile accidents. Distracted driving has been termed the new drunk driving, as it has similar visual affects to those cars around you on the road. Remember, a car is a heavy piece of machinery that is great for getting you from point A to point B quickly, but when you are not focusing your attention on the road that same convenient piece of equipment can be a dangerous weapon. Keep that in mind and do your part to minimize driving distractions in your vehicle, and remind those you love to do the same.