Safety Corner: Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can happen in an instant with the snap of an Instagram notification, or a BeReal post. It can also appear as rolling hills with beautiful scenery that causes a driver’s attention to linger just seconds too long. Even endearing moments like peeking in the backseat to check on passengers can end up with the most devastating repercussions of distracted driving. More than 3,000 people died from distracted driving in 2020 which equates to about nine people every day. 

Distracted driving is any activity that shifts a driver’s attention away from driving. This includes interacting with a phone, eating and drinking, talking with passengers, adjusting the vehicle’s sound or navigation system, or any other relevant event or interaction that affects a driver’s attention. 

There are three main types of distractions: 

  • Visual: takes a driver’s eyes off the road  
  • Manual: shifts a driver’s hands off of the steering wheel 
  • Cognitive: disrupts mental focus on driving 

Texting while driving is considered one of the worst, most impactful distractions that can occur. Reading a text for 5 seconds going 55 mph equates to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.  

Younger drivers are more likely to be affected by distracted driving with a higher percentage of fatal crashes involving distracted driving included 15–20-year-olds. 

 

There are many tools to prevent distracted driving 

Although distracted driving is dangerous, everyone can play a role to prevent it. Drivers should not multitask while driving. Any relevant adjustments within the vehicle, such as mirrors or music selection, or other activities, like eating or calling someone, should happen before or after driving. If you can no longer drive without said adjustments being made, navigate to a safe area and park to perform what is needed. Passengers of a vehicle should remind drivers to focus on operating the vehicle and help reduce distractions by providing navigation or help with other tasks.  

There are many apps and phone settings a driver can utilize to minimize or negate notifications, including the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode that prevents most messages from appearing onscreen. There are also app-specific settings that allow the user to toggle notifications on or off for most applications.  

Distracted driving is a conscious decision 

It is up to every driver to stay focused behind the wheel. It is vital to prioritize the safety of yourself and others over everything. Choose to drive, not to be distracted.