Whether anecdotally, on news reports, in movies or stories told by friends and family, distracted drivers are to be feared and avoided. Unfortunately, distractions are so common – and the activities are so minute – that we all fall victim to distractions in our own cars.
The first step toward eradicating this danger on the road is to understand what distractions actually are – and work to avoid them.
Many people assume that distracted driving involves an egregious activity like sending a text or doing your makeup while operating a motor vehicle. While these actions certainly represent driving distractions, they are at the extreme end of the spectrum. In fact, any activity that takes your attention from the road – even for a second – is a distraction.
Distractions can be categorized in three ways.
- Manual distraction: Any activity that takes your hands or feet away from the control surfaces of the car. Reaching into the passenger seat to grab a breakfast bar, for example.
- Visual distraction: Any activity that takes your eyes off the road. Looking into the backseat while having a conversation with a passenger is an example of looking away from the road.
- Cognitive distraction: Any activity that takes your mental focus away from the act of driving. Daydreaming, for example, can make you a dangerous driver.
Many activities become a combination of two or more of these distractions. The act of sending a text, for example, contains elements of all three distractions.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers tips to help drivers avoid these dangerous distractions:
- Turn off cell phones or place them out of reach to avoid the urge to dial or answer a call.
- Pre-program radio stations or playlists in your mp3 player.
- Try to avoid eating or drinking while driving. At the very least, avoid messy foods.
- Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle.
- Be honest with passengers. If they are distracting you – tell them.
Stay safe while driving and if you were in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about your options for monetary compensation through a personal injury claim.