Distracted driving is a serious issue that compromises the safety of everyone on the road – and experts say that the problem has reached epidemic proportions.
While cellphones are often the first thing that comes to mind when discussing distractions, there are several other things that can divert a driver’s attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control, anything that takes your mind, eyes or hands off the task at hand is a dangerous distraction. These are three major issues that you may not even realize are part of the “distracted driving problem” on U.S. roads.
Modern vehicles are equipped with a range of technological features designed to enhance convenience and entertainment. However, these very features can also be significant distractions. Consider the following:
- Infotainment systems: Adjusting the radio, changing a playlist or navigating complex infotainment systems can take your eyes and focus away from the road. It’s better to “set it and forget it” until you reach your destination, or learn to use voice controls.
- GPS navigation: While GPS devices are helpful for finding directions, they can also lead to distraction. Set your destination before starting your journey and rely on voice guidance rather than manual interaction with the device.
- Climate control and seat adjustments: Adjusting temperature controls, seat positions or your mirrors while driving may seem harmless, but it can significantly impair your focus. Make necessary adjustments before you start driving (or pull over in a safe location if changes are required).
Generally speaking, the less you fiddle with your in-car controls while you’re in motion, the better.
Food and drinks
Eating or drinking while driving may seem convenient, especially when your schedule is hectic. However, that hot cup of coffee you get every morning can become a danger if you suddenly spill part of it in your lap, and eating or drinking anything requires at least one hand off the steering wheel. It simply isn’t safe. Whenever possible, consume meals or snacks before or after your journey, or pull over to a safe location if you need to eat or drink.
Whether it’s children requiring attention, engaging in deep conversations with your friends, or participating in animated discussions with a spouse, these interactions can draw your attention away from the road. As the driver, it’s essential to set ground rules and encourage your passengers to remain mindful of your need to concentrate while driving.
While cellphones often dominate discussions on distracted driving, it’s wise to recognize other distractions that can compromise your attention (and the attention of other drivers) on the road so that you can take steps to minimize your risks. If you do end up in a wreck with a distracted driver, take time to find out more about your legal options, as you may be entitled to considerable compensation.