Distracted driving causes many serious mistakes and crashes every day. One government study found it may contribute to as many as four out of five accidents. While electronics are the most common and well-known culprit, some distracting activities have existed longer than the automobile itself.
In recent years, the increasing variety of portable electronic devices has created many new distractions for motorists. Incoming cellphone calls can be particularly distracting when drivers have to find their phones. Other potentially distracting devices include MP3 players, tablet computers, and two-way radios.
An object doesn’t have to be interactive to create a driving distraction. People often make errors when they reach for snacks, compact discs, maps, printed directions, or items that fall off the dashboard. The same goes for any object that causes a driver to let go of the steering wheel. Be aware of what is up front with you, and keep any distracting items in the back seat if possible.
It can be distracting when motorists talk to passengers, especially if they discuss complex or emotional issues. However, this usually isn’t as much of a distraction as a telephone conversation. Most passengers will stop talking when they notice the driver needs to pay extra attention, while when on the phone the other person may not be aware of what’s going on in the driver’s side.
Unless the subject matter is particularly engaging, simply listening to the radio usually doesn’t distract drivers much. Programming and switching stations is more problematic. Additionally, motorists who play very loud music may not hear important external sounds. As Kuzyk Law reminds, you should make sure you’ve got your music or CD’s already in before you start the engine.
Some distractions appear outside the car. Animals, signs, advertisements, antique vehicles, scenic views, and pedestrians may encourage a driver to look away from the road. A personal injury attorney in Antelope Valley, CA says it’s always best to pay attention to traffic and pull over before gazing at the scenery.
French fries, hamburgers, fried chicken, and beverages can easily become major distractions on the road. This is especially true if people need to open cans or wrappers. Accidents also occur when drivers inadvertently spill cups of coffee or hot chocolate on themselves while navigating busy streets. Be aware of your surroundings and try to eat once you find a place to park.
Although most of us realize it’s wise to keep personal hygiene activities in the bathroom, some drivers hurry to work as they put on makeup or shave with battery-powered razors. In addition to distracting themselves, they draw the attention of curious motorists who wonder what they’re doing.
Other potential distractions include tobacco, pets, and daydreaming. It’s important to remember that hands-free diversions can be just as hazardous if they prevent a person from thinking about driving.