There are certain behaviors that people recognize are dangerous for drivers. No one can obtain a license without first learning about the hazards of drunk driving. Driver’s education programs and public awareness campaigns have also helped teach people about the risks of distraction while driving.
However, the focus of both legislation aiming to curtail distracted driving and awareness campaigns is almost always on distraction caused by mobile devices, like phones. There is little question that picking up a phone to send a text message will keep someone from driving as safely as possible. Drivers may be less aware of how dangerous many other forms of distraction can be.
What constitutes distracted driving?
Contrary to the very simplistic definition that many people use, distracted driving can involve an assortment of different unsafe behaviors. Any actions that will take someone’s hands off of the wheel are a distraction. So are choices that lead to someone looking anywhere other than at their vehicle’s control panel or the road. Finally, mental distraction is also a concern, as thinking about something other than driving can lead to people failing to respond to changing traffic conditions.
Eating and drinking at the wheel are some of the most ubiquitous sources of distraction. Countless people eat on their way to work in the morning or an afternoon appointment. Many others drink coffee or soda while driving, never stopping to think about how doing so requires that they take at least one hand off of the wheel. If they spill, they may experience very intense distraction as they react to a burn or attempt to clean up the mess that results.
Grooming oneself while driving is also a very dangerous form of distraction. Some women will put on makeup on their way to work, while some men might use an electric shaver to trim their stubble. An attempt to change one’s clothes or fix one’s hair while driving can also be a dangerous source of distraction.
Finally, talking on the phone or getting into a heated conversation with the occupants of a vehicle can also be very mentally distracting for a driver. Even if they use hands-free systems to talk on their phone, a motorist may become so mentally distracted that they fail to properly respond to changing traffic conditions.
Any of these behaviors could lead to a fully preventable crash. Learning about and avoiding common risk factors may help people decrease their chances of experiencing a severe collision.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident because of distracted driving, or any other reason, give our office a call at 219-733-8633.