Groups » Dealing with Distracted Driving in the United States of America

While impaired driving is dealt with severely in most cases, distracted driving is an equally grave offense that needs to be dealt with a lot more seriously. Though several states are taking a tough stance on distracted driving, drivers still need to grasp the seriousness of this offense, and realize that it can claim lives on the road.

What Distracted Driving Comprises

Simply put, distracted driving takes place when the person behind the wheel takes their eyes and mind off the road. While cellphones are the first thing that comes to mind when one says “distracted driving,” multiple factors can cause breakage in attention when on the road. While we will come to that in a bit, let us first try to understand why distracted driving is such a common phenomenon.

There are two primary reasons for this: multitasking and complacency. As we get comfortable behind the wheel, we take it for granted and allow our focus to shift from driving to doing other activities. This can mean sending a quick text or just grabbing a bite; and that moment’s loss of attention can prove fatal.

On the other hand, we are always in a rush and want to constantly multitask, even when driving. As a result we eat, drink, shift food from one hand to another, or just worry about what we spilled on our car seat. Things like fiddling with the radio or your GPS, or looking back at your kids in the back seat are also types of distractions while driving. These seemingly harmless activities can endanger lives on the road.

Top Ten Causes of Distracted Driving

All distractions when driving do not have equal impact. A report by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System that surveys all American motor vehicle fatalities states the top ten causes of distracted driving.

1. moking Related

Lighting a smoke or putting it out figures among the top ten causes of distracted driving, but has been found out to be relatively less dangerous.

2. Objects in Motion

Moving objects always catch our attention. Insects or pests in the car can distract you. This is a rather frequent occurrence and can lead to accidents on the road in some cases.

3. Adjusting and Operating Car-Integrated Devices

Though these account for only 1% of distraction related accidents, adjusting your seatbelt or rear mirror can hinder safe driving. While we try to adjust these controls in a moving car most of the time, it is most advisable to stop the car at an appropriate place and then adjust the operations.

4. Operating Audio and Climate Controls

Operating the A/C or audio system also contributes to a small number of traffic fatalities.

5. Consuming Food and Beverages

Drinking a beverage, eating something, and spilling something hot on yourself all contribute to distracted driving.

6. Reaching for Devices in the Car

While it is well established that using cellphones is a primary cause of road fatalities, it turns out that even reaching for them can cause serious accidents.

7. Having Other Occupants

5% of road fatalities are caused when the driver is distracted by other people in the car. A split second of inattention can lead to a collision.

8. Outside Objects of Attention

When something in the outdoors demands your attention, like an overly vivid hoarding, or an accident site, you are distracted in your driving and this contributes to around 7% fatalities.

9. Using Your Mobile Phone

We have heard this a million times: don’t use your cellphone when driving. It is no surprise that mobile phones are one of the biggest causes of distracted driving. Texting, using social media, clicking selfies, seeing pictures, or just receiving calls sans earphones all distract you while driving.

10. Generally Distracted or Lost in Thought

While most of us believe that mobile phones are the biggest cause of distracted driving, it turns out our wandering minds and the inability to concentrate are the frontrunners in distracted driving fatalities. Blame it on a fatigued mind or the complexities and frustrations of daily life, getting lost in thought, daydreaming, or just thinking about other things when driving can lead to maximum road accidents. Being lost in thought accounts for a staggering 62% of distracted driving.

Let’s Talk Statistics

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The NHTSA records state that drivers in their 20s form 23% of those involved in fatal crashes. They are also the largest chunk of distracted drivers (38%) handling cell phones in deadly collisions.

It’s not just mobiles that are the problem though. An ERIE Insurance survey found that drivers indulge in ridiculous activities behind the wheel including brushing their teeth and changing clothes. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can also lead to a crash.

Reaching Solutions before Reaching the End

Distracted driving continues to wreak havoc on our roads. The initiative to eliminate distracted driving needs to become more powerful and streamlined. Americans need to be educated about the perils of distracted driving. We cannot afford to take this lightly.

While there are certain laws in place to inhibit distracted driving, awareness needs to be instilled in the drivers themselves. Distracted driving can claim lives, and this needs to be understood and taken note of.

To Conclude

While the implementation of stricter laws and tighter rules, and the invention of interactive accident-deterring smartphone features are progressive steps, they do not completely address the issue of distracted driving. Distracted driving goes beyond what your hands are doing and extends to your brain's activity and attention span. While the fact that driving demands complete attention needs to be emphasized constantly, automobile manufacturers need to up their game too, and provide automobiles with crash-avoidance technologies like forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Eliminating unnecessary distractions and providing car-integrated safety measures can be helpful in preventing accidents and saving lives.

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