Distracted Driving and its Dangers

To drive, we must be 100% focused.  A small, unforeseen situation at today‚Äôs highway speeds, can have deadly consequences. Being inattentive or unprepared can cause serious injuries to yourself or others. The technological advances of vehicles today can impart a false sense of security.  They allow you to move at a very high speeds without realizing it. This leads to drivers frequently failing to be attentive and aware of their surroundings.  

This behavior has increased recently according to official statistics provided by the NHTSA, which indicates that 20% of traffic accidents involving injuries were a consequence of a distracted driver. 

Types of distractions: 

Manual Distractions

These occur when you occupy one or both hands with something else other than the steering wheel. As a result, you won’t be fully in control. Some examples of Manual Distractions include: 

  • Texting or using the cellphone;
  • Driving only with one hand;
  • Doing any activity other than driving while operating a vehicle;
  • Applying makeup while driving; and
  • Listening to music while driving – and becoming distracted while changing the radio station or song. 

Visual Distractions

This happens when you’re not watching the road. It is very easy to become manually and visually distracted at the same time. This could include: 

  • Reading or typing anything on your cellphone or tablet;
  • Looking at navigation or GPS;
  • Looking at a passenger to talk;
  • Watching a video on an electronic device; or
  • Watching shows on cell phones or other digital entertainment systems.

Cognitive Distractions 

This is when your mind is too busy thinking about other things for a long period of time. In these cases, you’re not only distracted physically and visually but mentally too. Some examples are: 

  • Paying attention to a phone call;
  • Focusing on work, social situations, or thoughts other than driving;
  • Caring for or disciplining children while driving; or
  • Stress or anxiety. 

Statistics 

People usually don’t realize how serious this is and how a simple moment could be decisive, because not only do you endanger your own life but also put at risk other peoples’ lives. 

A studio developed in Florida recorded one of the busiest roads for 20 min. In this time, more than 2000 cars were recorded, the results showed 8% of the vehicles that passed, the drivers were not attentive to the road, they were distracted. Luckily, as they filmed there were no accidents. 

According to official statistics by NHTSA In 2017, 9% of car accidents that had fatalities were a consequence of distracted drivers. This is a shocking figure.  More than 3,000 people died that year as a result of this bad habit. Among these figures, we can highlight that the population under the age of 20 had more accidents of this type. And what is even more shocking is that from all those fatalities, almost 600 were not in the vehicles.  These fatalities included people walking, running, riding bicycles, etc. 

Another study was conducted at the Universidad Externado of Colombia. They evaluated the response time when people were driving 100% focused, and then they analyzed the reaction time when they were driving distracted. 619 persons of different ages participated in the study, the results were impressive. 

In the first phase of the study, everyone had a high level of concentration and attention in the test where the average response time was measured. Then they measured it again but this time each person was talking as driving with both hands. This phase gave a result that the response time decreased by an average of 19%. In the next test they used the cellphone with one hand and drive with the other, this gave the more impacting results because the response time decreased by almost 50%.  

The most frustrating part of distracted driving accidents is that they can be avoided. It is easy to assume that we have learned to drive with distractions, but it is not safe at all. Distracted driving endangers you, your passengers, and those around you. However, if becoming educated regarding the types of distracted driving and then taking affirmative staeps to avoid those distractions can make you a safer driver.  

Talk to you friends and family about the dangers of distracted driving.  In doing so, you just might save someone’s life. 

Other sources to learn more about Distracted Driving: