Distraction has become one of the leading causes of preventable motor vehicle collisions. The constant temptation of mobile technology prompts people to take their hands off of the wheel and their eyes off of the road while driving. Even the sound of a text message or email coming into a phone can mentally distract someone.
If you try your best to be a safe driver, then you likely already try to avoid distractions at the wheel. You might even turn your phone or at least the ringer off before you shift out of park. What you may not realize is that you could still be driving distracted even if you never touch your phone.
If you do any of the three activities below, you could actually be a distracted driver.
You interact with built-in screens or a GPS device
If you have a new vehicle, then you might have a built-in GPS navigation program and a screen right in the center of your dashboard. Even vehicles that are more than 10 years old might have onboard entertainment systems for the people in the back seat.
Many people think that a GPS device or a built-in screen isn’t a distraction risk. However, those screens will still require that you focus your brain on something other than driving and take your hands off the wheel.
You sing along to the radio or have deep conversations
Maybe you enjoy listening to Top-40 hits on your way into the office to make your commute seem shorter. Perhaps you carpool and spend the whole way into work talking with your deskmate about the recent gossip at the office. You might even call someone on the phone to rehash your terrible date from last weekend.
Talking or singing may not seem like a big risk, especially if you don’t actually have a phone in your hands. However, the mental distraction that comes from a conversation or a sing-along could lead to a crash. You may also feel compelled to take your eyes off of the road when talking to someone who is in the vehicle with you.
Drinking a coffee or cramming in a meal before work
Many people try to multitask while driving, often by eating or drinking. However, even if you only have to take one hand off of the wheel to take a sip of your coffee, doing so will still increase your reaction time and contribute to higher levels of mental distraction.
While it may seem boring, the best way to protect yourself against distraction-related crashes is to avoid all forms of distraction while you drive. Identifying and avoiding distractions will make it easier to prove you aren’t at fault if you do get into a motor vehicle collision.