To some extent, we are all guilty of distracted driving. You zone out while you’re driving along and can’t recall passing the usual landmarks. You reach into the backseat to grab a toy off of the floor for one of your kids. You change the radio station. You eat a snack. You dig in your purse to find lip balm. All of these are typical examples of distracted driving – but the smartphone, of course, has created the biggest distraction. An all-consuming device, some people are unable to put their smartphones down and miss a text, email, or call just to pay attention to the important job they’re doing behind the wheel. Perhaps if drivers are more educated about the fatal dangers of distracted driving, they’ll think twice about reaching for that cell phone. Here are just 7 facts you probably didn’t know about distracted driving.
- Driving distractions come in different forms.
There are three types of driving distractions that impact just a person’s attentiveness while driving:
- Manual: Manual distraction is when the driver removes both hands from the wheel for any reason, whether reaching for a phone or wallet, altering the GPS, or eating and drinking.
- Cognitive: When a driver’s mind isn’t focused on driving – because they’re talking to someone in the car, listening to an engrossing radio program, or simply preoccupied with thoughts of work or personal matters – they are distracted from the task at hand and their surroundings.
- Visual:Looking at anything besides the road in front of you while driving the car is visual distraction. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second increases your crash risk.
- Texting is the worst offense.
Texting while driving is the worst and most dangerous distracted driving offense because it involves all three forms of distraction – cognitive, manual, and visual.
- Hands-free devices aren’t all that safe.
People may argue that the driver of a vehicle having a conversation with someone sitting beside them in the car is just like speaking with someone while using a hands-free device or speakerphone. But studies have shown that hands-free devices can be just as distracting as typical cell phone use. Portable and vehicle-integrated hands-free smartphone use involves visual-manual tasks at least half of the time (locating the person’s name or number and dialing), and these behaviors are associated with a greater crash risk.
- Drivers know their faults, but still don’t change their behavior.
A Harris survey found that 94 percent of respondents considered texting while driving very dangerous and 91 percent think reading texts while driving is dangerous. Nevertheless, people do it. The survey found that 45 percent of people read texts while driving, 37 percent send texts, 24 percent have posted to social media while behind the wheel, and 13 percent have watched a video on their phone or tablet. While driving!
- Red lights are no exception.
Stopping at a red light is time to primp, chill out, or send a quick text, at least according to the respondents’ in the Harris survey who answered questions like whether or not it’s safe to read texts while stopped at a red light – 51 percent say it’s OK while 49 percent say it’s not a good idea. But distracting events also include latency, according to AAA, and texting while stopped at a traffic light can negatively affect full driving engagement once the light turns green for – get this – an average of 27 seconds after the driver has stopped texting.
- Selfies are a big problem.
For some reason, a lot of people have become narcissists. And being behind the wheel doesn’t get in the way of taking yet another selfie. According to AAA, more drivers are taking selfiesand posting them to social media sites – hashtags and all – while driving. Really, can’t it wait?
- You can’t successfully multitask while driving.
A recent study release by AT&T found that 28 percent of smartphone users surf the internet while driving. Talk about a triple-threat – if texting includes serious cognitive, visual, and manual distraction, browsing the web has to increase that stat tenfold.
David Christensen is an auto accident attorney and a leading advocate against distracted driving. He has helped hundreds of victims obtain their benefits from insurance companies. Christensen Law is located in Southfield, Michigan.