Why do car accidents happen? Although there are many reasons collisions can occur, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed the lives of 2,841 lives in 2018 alone.
With texting and driving being the most alarming distraction when we’re behind the wheel, we don’t always think about the additional driving distractions that can divert our attention away from the road ahead. Here are eleven other distracted driving examples to keep in mind for the next time you’re heading out.
Eleven distractions while driving
Even though hands-free technology was designed for drivers to correspond with others via voice commands instead of manually using your smartphone, it can still lead to distracted behavior. In fact, one study found that after a driver has finished making their voice commands, the driver will remain distracted for up to 27 seconds before they can safely readjust to road mode. Within that 27 second readjustment period, drivers could disregard signs, pedestrians, or other vehicles.
For most of us, our GPS navigation apps or systems are how we get from point A to point B. However, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to configure a route when you’re already driving. In order to cut down on possible distractions from your GPS, it’s best to set your navigational request before you get behind the wheel, and turn the volume up to listen to the directions instead of having to keep checking the screen for turn by turn directions.
Eating while driving.
A lot of us have enjoyed a snack or a beverage a time or two when we’re behind the wheel. Although snacking and drinking on the road may seem harmless, they can easily lead to unforeseen distractions that could result in an accident. Between potential burns, spills, or a sticky steering wheel – each can lead to situational distracted driving behavior. In fact, according to the NHTSA, drivers who eat or drink while driving increase their odds of getting into an accident by 80%.
Sometimes, when some of us get behind the wheel to begin our day, we didn’t have the time to get fully ready. Instead of waiting to do so once we reach our destination, we end up using the time in the car to get ourselves looking how we want to. These activities take our hands off the wheel and eyes off the road, which can easily make a driver susceptible to an accident.
We all understand what it’s like to realize you’ve got to get yourself from point A to point B, but you’re feeling drowsy from lack of sleep. However, what we don’t always realize is that when we drive exhausted, we drive distracted. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about half of adult drivers have gotten behind the wheel while feeling drowsy. All in all, a fatigued driver is a distracted driver.
Driving when angry or sad.
We’ve all been there – you’ve got a personal problem going on, and you find yourself emotional or angry while you’re driving. Although sometimes we may not think our emotional and mental state could lend its way to a collision – it can. In fact, according to study done in 2016, driving while angry or sad could increase your risk of crashing by nearly ten times.
Having to use the restroom.
Mother nature waits for nobody – and that means that sometimes, the need to relieve yourself can distract you from the road ahead. Having to use the bathroom badly while driving can impair your judgment and decision making, which can result in a collision. If you ever feel that you must use the bathroom so badly that you can’t concentrate, look for a place to stop and relieve yourself so you can get yourself refocused on driving safely.
Reaching for things in the backseat.
We may not always think about it but reaching behind our front seat to collect an item, such as a water bottle or a bag, can be the difference between getting into a collision or not. Although it may seem harmless to reach behind your seat while driving to collect an item, it isn’t. Anytime you take your hands off the steering wheel and your eyes off the road, you’re no longer driving safely. Thus, if you can – it’s best to ensure you have everything you may need readily available in the front seat before hitting the road.
Researchers have found that having children in the car can be four times more distracting than having adult passengers in the car. Thus, if you plan to hit the road with your kids, make sure they are safely seated, and you are keeping your eyes on the road to prevent any collisions from happening.
You may think its harmless to let your furry friend join you for a cruise, but sometimes that can be the exact reason you find yourself in a collision. Having your cat or dog in the car can be fun, but unless the pets are safely restrained, it can be distracting. Thus, if you’re thinking of heading out on the road ahead with your furry friend, for the safety of you and your pet, make sure to put them in a backseat-friendly kennel or cage.
Listening to music while driving is a common practice shared by most drivers on the road. We’ve all been in that situation from time to time, when a favorite song of yours comes on and you can’t help but turn the volume up. There’s nothing wrong with listening to music to make your drive more enjoyable. However, in order to do so safely, it’s important to be aware of how loud the music is so that you can easily hear other drivers or emergency vehicles on the road.
The bottom line.
Driving with distractions is a leading cause of all car collisions on the roadways. Although texting and driving makes up a good portion of all distracted driving accidents, we’ve now reviewed how there are other distractions while driving to be aware of, before we hit the road.
At SafeAuto, we want our customers and their families to play it safe. Now more than ever, it’s important to do our part to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors safe from further spreading COVID-19. We hope you and your loved ones can still enjoy the road ahead!