Cell phones are one major kind of distraction, but there are lots of ways to lose focus while driving. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identify three:
Visual: taking your eyes off the road
Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
This includes texting, talking on a phone, eating, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, adjusting music or reacting to the behavior of a passenger.
Texting while driving tops the list and has already been banned in 46 states. Research has shown that texting and driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Texting is the method of choice for most young people to communicate. No surprise that drivers under 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Parents should take a role in instructing their teens about the dangers of texting and driving.
Watch for Other Distracted Drivers and Pedestrians and stay focused on the road. Be aware of others who might be distracted. Defensive, focused and cautious driving is the best bet to prevent an accident with a careless driver.
Distracted walking is another dangerous behavior on the rise. Walkers can be at risk if talking on a cell phone or listening to music, etc.,. Teens account for 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths. Older teens account for a staggering 25 percent increase in pedestrian injuries in the past five years. Over half of all adults have been involved in a distracted walking encounter.
Distracted driving accidents are on the rise, but they are preventable. Commonsense tips on how to protect yourself and others include:
Keep your eyes on the road, pull over to read directions, and put your phone away.
Keep your phone out of reach, make all adjustments before driving, and don’t reach for items while driving.
Avoid phone calls (even hands-free), stay focused on the road, and keep your emotions in check.