Multitasking can feel like a superpower sometimes. There’s nothing quite like that sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you pulled off juggling several errands simultaneously. After all, not everybody has what it takes to feed the dog and update their status while frying up an omelet in between a morning news and cardio routine. Multitasking is great in practically every area of life – except behind the wheel that is. More and more people are tragically falling victim to the perils of distracted driving thanks to a seemingly harmless desire to multitask.
What is distracted driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 8 people are killed and 1,161 are injured every day as a direct result of distracted driving. This translates into thousands of deaths and injuries annually because of completely avoidable human error. Distracted Driving has a simple definition; it’s the act of operating a vehicle while doing things that stray concentration away from the specific task of driving. Unfortunately, in the worst case scenario distracted driving produces nothing but complicated and undesirable consequences.
There are three main classes of distraction when it comes to driving, namely: visual distraction, manual distraction and cognitive distraction.
Visual Distraction: This comprises the disruption of a driver’s gaze away from elements of the road that deserve full attention. Visual distraction can happen for many reasons, but the most common one today is use of mobile devices. The NHTSA estimates that up to 70% of drivers in the U.S. admit to regularly using their cell phones while driving. This is particularly dangerous because at the legal speed limit, merely sending a quick text can divert a driver’s eyes from the road in the time it takes to cover at least 120 yards.
Manual Distraction: This involves physical interruption of a driver’s grip on the steering wheel or essential controls of a vehicle. A significant number of people consistently make a habit of engaging in activities that make it impossible to maintain hold of the wheel. In addition to using mobile devices for example, drivers also tend to eat food, apply makeup, change clothes, or interact with passengers in an animated way.
Cognitive Distraction: Usually less controllable than visual or manual distraction, cognitive distraction is a state of mental preoccupation that impedes a driver’s overall focus. It’s understandable when people are distracted by unpredictable stress. However, if a driver unnecessarily concentrates on things outside of safe driving, this is tantamount to unacceptable and dangerous negligence.
Distracted driving, especially with regard to the use of mobile devices, is increasingly becoming a problem that’s attracting legislative control. For instance California law makes it illegal to simultaneously drive and use electronic wireless communication devices to write, send, or read messages. As distracted driving continues to claim casualties, it is expected that such laws will expand to include the numerous issues that actively cause distracted driving. Beyond following the letter of this law, here are a few measures you can take to avoid activities that typically cause visual, manual and cognitive distraction while driving:
- Choose to pay attention at all times when driving.
- Keep all vehicle windows clean and clear of obstructions or debris.
- Do not access mobile devices when in motion or anywhere on a public road.
- Where available, use hands-free accessories and options such as voice-operation on electronic devices.
- Do not tailgate when driving, especially if relying on mounted electronic devices.
- Ensure that all occupants of a vehicle are buckled-up and at ease.
- Don’t drive while fatigued. Get plenty of rest.
- Avoid last-minute travel. The more time you have to reach your destination, the less you’ll have to worry about rushing and multitasking.
For more information, give us a call at 1-888-309-4545 to find out how Adriana’s Traffic School can help you practice safe driving.