Jamaica NY| Top Causes of Distracted Driving & How to Avoid Them
If you’re one of the millions of Americans with a daily commute, driving can seem like a mundane and almost mindless activity. However, driving is actually one of the most dangerous things that you’ll do all day, so it’s not a routine to be taken lightly.
Approximately 25 percent of all motor vehicle crashes are linked to distracted driving, which is an alarming statistic. At least 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2013 in America, and approximately 424,000 people were injured in these types of crashes. Therefore, over 106,000 people could have arrived safely at their destinations if distractions were avoided.
Distracted driving is nothing new, but it’s become more of a serious issue with the electronic devices that we depend upon. However, there are many other things that cause us to be distracted while behind the wheel too.
Top Causes of Distracted Driving
Despite all the billboards and ad campaigns, cell phones are still the number one cause of distracted driving accidents. Whether you’re texting, looking up directions, or checking email, cell phones and driving simply do not mix.
Studies show that using cell phone headsets are not substantially safer either. A University of Utah study found that using a cell phone, whether handheld or hands-free, creates a delayed reaction on par with having a blood alcohol level of the legal limit, .08 percent.
As a driver, you must take responsibility for your personal safety and the safety of your passengers. However, you also have the right to a safe driving environment that’s free of distractions. Avoid having emotionally-charged conversations while driving, and politely request that your passengers help you keep everyone safe during the journey.
Eating and Drinking
Whether you’re in a hurry or just passing the time, it’s never a good idea to eat you meals while driving. No matter how cautious you are, this bad habit makes you likely to spill on your lap and swerve while cleaning up the mess.
These are some other common causes of distracted driving:
- Adjusting the radio and climate
- Personal grooming
- Using a GPS device
- Reading a book or map
- Driving while emotional
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
When you take your eyes away from the road for even five seconds while driving 55 mph, you’ve basically just driven across a football field with your eyes closed. Here are some tips to avoid distracted driving every time you go for a drive.
Plan Your Route in Advance
GPS technology has made it much easier to get from Point A to Point B, but not necessarily safer. Plug your destination address into your GPS before you back out of your parking spot so that you don’t need to fuss with it while driving.
Don’t Drive When You’re Emotional
Let’s say you just got into a fight with a loved one or had an especially frustrating encounter with your boss before leaving the office. Resist the urge to “blow off steam” while driving with the radio blasting and tears streaming down your face. An emotional driver is no better behind the wheel than an intoxicated driver, so cool off before you take off.
Stick to Your Favorite Radio Station
When the car radio was first introduced, people feared that simply listening to music would cause accidents. However, studies show that the radio is not inherently dangerous. To minimize your risks while listening, set your favorite radio station before you start driving and stick to it…even during the commercial breaks. Most radio-related accidents are caused by switching stations, popping in and out CDs, or plugging in a cell phone to play Internet radio instead.
Here are some other tips for avoiding distracted driving:
- Never drive when tired or fatigued
- Tuck your phone away in a totally inaccessible place
- Pull over if you need to make a call
- Regularly check your rear and side-view mirrors
The best way to put a stop to distracted driving is to educate drivers about common causes, potential risks, and prevention strategies. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been driving or how good of a driver you think you are. Everyone can get distracted, and the results are often deadly.
Sam Dunn writes for Comedy Defensive Driving, a Texas online defensive driving school.
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