According to the CDC, more than nine people are killed daily in the United States due to distracted driving, and over 3,000 people are killed yearly. Distracted driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as “any activity that takes your attention away from the task of driving.” Every time you drive distracted, you increase the risk that you will injure yourself or others in a crash.
At Dahl Consulting, we know that the people who make up our business are our most important asset. Whether your destination is your workplace or simply to run an errand, driving is an essential element of our daily lives. Our company strongly encourages employees and workforce team members to utilize safe driving practices, both on and off the job. We believe that awareness and education are key to ensuring a safer roadway for all.
Types of Distracted Driving
Nearly every driver is guilty of some form of distracted driving. Distracted driving activities include using a cell phone, texting, eating, or adjusting the radio or your navigation system. There are three primary types of distracted driving.
1. Visual Distractions
A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road. This could include looking at a car crash, eye-catching outside surroundings, or the people in your car. Unsurprisingly, taking your eyes off the street can end in a collision with another vehicle, person, or surrounding objects. It is vital to always keep your eyes on the road, as traffic can change in the blink of an eye.
2. Manual Distractions
A manual distraction involves removing your hands from the steering wheel. This includes reaching for a drink, a phone, or a loose object in your vehicle. Manual distractions cause a slower reaction response, as you cannot use your total capacity to avoid dangers in the path of your vehicle.
3. Cognitive Distractions
Cognitive distractions are the most abstract of the three types but are defined as anything that takes your mind off the task of driving. When you think of distracted driving, you likely don’t think of cognitive distractions first. However, this type of distraction can be just as dangerous as the former two. When spacing out, singing, or directing your attention to your vehicle’s passengers, you risk causing an accident that would have otherwise been avoided.
Texting and Driving
Texting and driving is one of the worst kinds of distracted driving as it distracts you visually, manually, and cognitively. According to the NHTSA, taking your eyes off the road for even 5 seconds going 55mph, is the same as driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes shut. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous to yourself and others and can be deadly. In 2020, more than 10% of texting and driving accidents were fatal, amounting to 396 people in total killed. Before you pick up the phone, consider the serious consequences it may have.
Distracted driving can not only result in injury or death, but most states also have other legal penalties. Texting and driving is explicitly banned in 48 of the 50 states in the US, and handheld cellphone usage is prohibited in 31 states. In Minnesota, handheld usage, text messaging, and phone usage for novice drivers are illegal. Fines for texting and driving vary by state and can also increase your insurance premiums, as your provider will consider you a liability.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be hard to avoid entirely. However, there are things that you can do to prevent distracted driving. Eliminating unnecessary distractions is an excellent place to start. AAA shares ten tips that you can use to avoid distracted driving.
- Focus your full attention on driving.
- Secure any loose items that could roll around in your car as you drive.
- Make necessary adjustments before moving your vehicle, such as entering addresses into navigation systems, adjusting the radio or AC, or changing seat and mirror positions.
- Get dressed at home before you leave, not in the car.
- Don’t eat while driving if you can avoid it. As a rule of thumb, avoid messier foods if you must eat while driving.
- Ensure that children and pets are secure before getting on the road.
- Stow away your electronics and refrain from operating any electronics built into the vehicle.
- If you have passengers, ask them to help you with any potential distractions.
- If something comes up that demands your attention, find a safe place to pull off the road.
- Generally, it’s a distraction if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity. Take care of any possible distractions before or after your trip, not while actively driving.
Taking responsibility for yourself ensures your safety and the safety of everyone else you share the road with. If you’re invested in preventing distracted driving, there are things you can do to support the cause. One of these things is leading by example and advocating strongly that the people in your life don’t drive distracted. Speaking up when you are in the vehicle of a distracted driver is a small thing you can do to prevent accidents. Offer to help with directions, answer texts for the driver, or manage noise in the car. If you are an employer, spreading awareness and educating employees can have a positive impact. Lastly, there are options to be an advocate for safe driving practices in your local community. Supporting laws, speaking at community gatherings, and sharing content on social media and other websites can have a lasting effect on those around you.
Driving distractions are dangerous and can have devastating results. Getting from point A to point B safely is always the best outcome. Dahl Consulting strongly encourages employees and workforce team members to utilize safe driving practices, both on and off the job.