Understanding The Risks of Distracted Driving
When it comes to traffic safety, it shouldn’t be news to anyone that driving distracted poses a danger to everyone on the road. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 400,000 motor vehicle crashes in 2015 involved a distracted driver – and distracted driving accounted for 10% of all fatal crashes in the US.
What types of activities constitute distracted driving?
When it comes to driving, a distraction is more than just any activity that takes your eyes off the road – they’re any activity that diverts your attention from being fully focused on the safety of yourself, your passengers, and everyone else around you. Examples of distractions include:
- Talking on a cell phone or mobile device
- Manipulating a cell phone or mobile device (text messaging, dialing, GPS, app usage, etc.)
- Adjusting audio/climate controls
- Consuming food and drink
- Interacting with passengers
- Smoking-related activities
These distractions are often common activities and therefore we assume they don’t take up a significant portion of our attention; however, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, experienced adult drivers were more than twice as likely to suffer a crash or near-miss when simply dialing a phone.
How often do people drive distracted?
When asked about their driving habits in Allstate’s educational program “Reality Rides,” respondents gave answers that might shock you about their distracted driving habits. Of the 7500 drivers surveyed, nearly 50% admitted to at least occasionally texting while driving. More than two-thirds of the respondents reported talking on the phone while driving (whether on hand-held devices or using Bluetooth technology).
How can I avoid distractions while driving?
Let’s face it – not all distractions can be prevented. A crash scene may catch your eye; your phone may ring suddenly and loudly; a bad smell may cause you to roll up the windows and crank the AC. Regardless, there are plenty of distractions that can be prevented in order to create a safer driving experience. For example:
- Adjust your mirrors, climate controls, and radio prior to driving. Further adjustments should be made sparingly and only as necessary.
- Securely stow anything that may roll around in the event of a sharp turn, sudden stop, etc.
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving, when possible. Otherwise, snack strategically, choosing foods that aren’t messy or difficult to manage.
- Set aside electronic distractions, stowing your cell phone (and perhaps turning the ringer off) prior to driving.