Distracted driving is a dangerous behavior that diverts attention away from the primary task of driving. It includes various actions compromising road safety and leading to otherwise avoidable accidents.
Some drivers are more likely to drive when distracted.
The most susceptible age group
Research indicates that younger drivers, particularly those in their teens and early twenties, are more susceptible to distractions. The allure of smartphones and the perceived need to stay connected often lead to increased instances of distracted driving in this age bracket.
However, distracted driving is not exclusive to the younger generation. Older drivers may also succumb to distractions, although for different reasons.
Visual distractions prompt drivers to take their eyes away from the road. Activities such as using a GPS, gazing at billboards, rubbernecking an accident or even observing surrounding cars rather than focusing on the path ahead contribute to this dangerous behavior.
Manual distractions involve removing hands from the wheel. Common examples include eating while driving, operating a phone, adjusting the radio station or reaching for objects within the vehicle. Such actions compromise a driver’s ability to respond promptly to changing road conditions.
Cognitive distractions divert the driver’s mind from the essential task of driving. Engaging in activities like singing, talking, daydreaming or worrying can impair cognitive functions and decision-making while on the road.
Some behaviors, such as hands-on cell phone use, fall under all three distraction categories. With a driver’s eyes away from the road, hands off the steering wheel and mind on other things, the dangers increase exponentially.
Why distractions are dangerous
When motorists do not focus on the act of driving, the chances of causing a collision increase dramatically. Driver reaction time plays a big part. This refers to a driver’s time to perceive a potential hazard and initiate a response, such as braking or steering changes.
Distracted drivers have a delayed reaction time due to their focus on other things. By the time they notice slowing traffic ahead or a car cutting in front of them, it is often too late to avoid a collision.
Texting significantly delays reaction times; sending or reading a text can take a driver’s attention away for around five seconds. In those moments, a vehicle traveling at 55 mph covers the length of a football field, creating a heightened risk of accidents.
Prevent distracted driving accidents
Teach your children about the dangers of distracted driving. Teens and young adults often have an “I’m invincible” mindset, so prepare to overcome this mentality.
Children learn acceptable behaviors by watching their parents. Actions usually speak louder than words, so do not engage in distracted driving yourself.