Driving is something many of us do every day. It can seem so routine and uneventful that we don’t always appreciate just how risky it is to operate a massive vehicle around others travelling at high speeds. Thus, people think it’s no big deal to try and multi-task, but this is not true. Distracted driving can cause accidents, from fender-benders to catastrophic collisions.
Any type of distraction behind the wheel can lead to a crash. However, some behaviours are more distracting than others.
Types of distraction
There are three ways people can be affected by a distracting activity:
- Manual distraction means a person has their hands off the wheel and doing something else.
- Visual distraction means a person isn’t looking at or focused on the road.
- Cognitive distraction means that a person’s attention is not on driving.
Behaviours involving more than one type of distraction can be especially dangerous. The more distracted a person is, the more likely it can be that they will get into an accident.
Certain common distractions make a driver unfocused in multiple ways. As such, the most dangerous things people do while driving include:
- Using their phone to text, browse social media or watch videos
- Reaching for something in the backseat
- Grooming, like applying makeup or shaving
- Getting into an argument with a passenger or someone on the phone
- Eating or drinking, particularly when it comes to hot beverages or foods that require two hands to hold
- Entering information into a GPS or infotainment system
These actions mean that a driver is experiencing multiple types of distraction, increasing their risk of drifting out of their lanes, missing a traffic signal or failing to see a dangerous situation ahead of them.
Even if drivers do see something they want to avoid, they may not be able to act quickly enough to stop, slow down or steer away from a hazard.
Minimizing distracted driving
Understanding how distraction works can help drivers better understand why it is so dangerous. While we cannot control the actions of other drivers, we can change our own habits and behaviours to avoid distractions and focus on safe driving.