Distracted driving is proven to be just as bad as hopping behind the wheel after a few beers or a couple of glasses of wine. It’s dangerous, and it’s causing a surprisingly high proportion of accidents on the road: 22% or even higher according to some estimates. So we looked through and found the worst offenders for keeping your eyes off the road and everybody at risk.
#5) DVD Players
We’re not referring to players lodged in the backseat headrests. While those may not be great, they’re at least focused on the passenger and not the driver. And parents, of course, love them; it’s a great way, if you’re stuck on a long road trip and are running out of things to do, to get the kids to calm down a little bit and go to sleep. But, before you ask, yes, there are dashboard-installed DVD players. And we’re pretty sure those are the ones causing the accidents: do you really need to watch TV that badly? You can’t just set up a TiVo? No, we meant at home, not in-dash.
Cars are increasingly becoming rolling WiFi hotspots. There’s certainly some value in that; road warriors with this feature no longer have to worry about being disconnected from their email, and in fact this makes cars with such systems ideal for business trips, and can be used to track weather and traffic conditions. There are even plans to create accident-prevention networks that use WiFi systems to warn nearby cars if you get in an accident.
On the other hand, the temptation to actually check your email when you’re stuck in stop-and-go traffic can be overwhelming if you’re a connectivity junkie, especially since most modern smartphones have WiFi as a standard and will access your stuff automatically. So maybe we should restrict them to only operating at certain points.
#3) Video Game Systems
Yes, where there are DVDs, video game systems will inevitably follow, where portable consoles haven’t already tread. We only rank this one higher because video games require a lot more of your attention than a movie. They’re designed to be absorbing, engaging, and to make you want to play constantly. The problem, of course, is that they’re also designed to be used at a full stop…
#2) The Radio
Believe it or not, this is an old, old problem. Ever wonder why, increasingly, new cars come with all the radio controls built right into the steering wheel? Sure, it’s convenient, but it’s also been shown to prevent distractions and be easier to use. It’s also why your MP3 player talks to your car radio: if you’re not messing with a click wheel, you’re keeping your hands on the steering wheel.
Then again, there are people who admit to using their headphones while driving, so nothing’s perfect, we guess.
#1) Cell Phones
Are you really shocked this is the number one offender?
Ever since cell phones entered into widespread use, police officers and safety officials have noticed people can’t stop yakking while driving. Insist all you want you’re not distracted: science disagrees with you, and in a big, big way. Texting, of course, is even worse, and even a hands-free system only reduces the distraction, it doesn’t eliminate it.
What’s the solution to all this? Pretty simple: turn off the phone, set the radio to a station you know you like, and focus on your driving. You’ll be safer, and so will everyone else.