When most people think of dangerous distractions while driving, cellphones are typically the first thing that comes to mind. But while there’s no doubt that texting or talking on your phone while driving is incredibly risky, many motorists forget that distracted driving encompasses any activity that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road or your mind off of driving. These three distraction categories are known as manual, visual and cognitive distractions.
While you might think eating breakfast on your way to work or reaching for something in your backseat are quick and harmless tasks, the reality is any non-driving activity you do behind the wheel increases your risk of getting into an accident. Distracted driving causes nine deaths and over 1,000 injuries each day in the United States.
Motorists must remember that driving requires a high level of brainpower. Here are some of the most common activities that jeopardize your safety behind the wheel:
Manual distractions while driving require to remove one or both of your hands off of the wheel:
- Eating or drinking
- Smoking or lighting a cigarette
- Reaching for any items on the floor or seats
- Assisting children or pets in the vehicle
- Adjusting the radio, temperature or GPS
- Grooming or applying makeup
Visual distractions include anything that takes your eyes away from the road, such as:
- Looking at the scenery
- Reading a billboard or sign
- Looking at a traffic accident on the road
- Glancing at a map or GPS
- Changing your music selection or temperature controls
- Looking at your passengers
Just because your hands are on the wheel and your eyes are on the road doesn’t always mean you’re focused on driving. Mental distractions while driving can include:
- Talking to passengers in your car
- Driving while angry or upset
- Thinking about problems at work or home
- Using hands-free technology
- Driving under the influence
Distractions that can occur while driving come in countless different forms. Remember, even seemingly innocent actions could have deadly consequences when you’re behind the wheel.