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Road Distractions: Looking at the Different Types and How to Avoid Them

Distracted driving has long been a significant safety hazard on American roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accounted for over 3,000 deaths in 2020 alone.

A driver who shifts their focus from the road even for a few seconds poses a risk to themselves and other road users. While most drivers know the common sources of distractions, such as mobile phones, most choose to ignore the risk.

As we strive to make our roads safer, the first and most crucial task is to examine the different types of distractions, after which we can establish preventive mechanisms. That said, here is a guide to understanding distracted driving and its prevention.

Types of Distractions

Distracted driving affects three major driving aspects that are manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual distractions compel the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel. When this happens, the vehicle may drift from its designated lane, and if the driver fails to regain control promptly, an accident could happen.

Visual distractions influence a driver to take their eyes off the road. When drivers pay attention to these distractions, they fail to notice potential hazards in time. They may fail to acknowledge other motorists and could crash into them.

Finally, cognitive distractions take a driver’s attention off the road. A driver’s train of thought may be filled with ideas that ultimately make him lose concentration. This could affect their reaction time and have adverse repercussions.

Common Distractions

Below are some examples of manual, visual, and cognitive distractors. Note that some are a combination of each other.

Cell Phone Use

The use of mobile phones while driving continues to be one of the leading causes of distracted driving-related accidents. On top of that, it is highly distracting as it affects the driver’s manual, visual, and cognitive driving abilities.

Surprisingly, drivers still text, answer calls, and check their social media updates while driving. Are hands-free devices like voice-activated systems safe?

Research has shown that drivers are still distracted when they engage in phone conversations while driving. Their focus is taken from the road, and they may not be aware of what is happening around them.

Eating and Drinking

As more restaurants continue to offer drive-through services, drivers are more tempted to eat and drink as they drive. This is quite dangerous as motorists may take their hands off the wheel to pick up food or a drink. While doing this, a driver might also look away from the road.

Moreover, drivers are at risk of causing spills that further distract them, especially when the drinks are hot. The food packages also create a cluttered environment making it hard for them to perform basic driving tasks.

Driving With Pets and Children

Pets and children are often restless in vehicles and could distract a driver from the road. A driver might be forced to tend to a crying child or a barking dog while driving, making it challenging to navigate safely.

Other forms of distractions include:

  • Adjusting vehicle controls, such as GPS, mirrors, AC, and radio
  • Loud and rowdy passengers
  • Illnesses, for example, the common cold, which could make one sneeze or blow their nose while driving
  • Personal grooming, such as wearing make-up and combing hair

Final Thoughts

Driving is a task that requires a driver’s full attention. Taking your focus from the road even for a split second while driving at high speeds could have catastrophic outcomes. Therefore, motorists should avoid engaging in tasks that take their attention out of the primary task of driving.

“Drivers should stay focused on the road and avoid distractions like texting, eating, or using navigation systems” says personal injury lawyer Jim Onder. “By being alert and attentive while driving, we can prevent accidents and keep our roads safe,”

If you sustain injuries from a car accident due to distracted driving or other forms of negligence, you may want to hire a lawyer to help you pursue compensation.

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