Distracted Driving and Car Crashes—What You Can Do

On Cell Phone while driving

Distracted Driving – We’ve all done it. Taken our eyes off the road just for a second to check our phones. Or maybe we’re sipping a quick coffee on the way to work, chatting with a friend while driving home, or even consulting our navigation system to see an upcoming turn. All of these actions can be just enough of a distraction to cause an accident.

More and more drivers are finding it hard to stay focused while driving—and we’re seeing a rise in car crashes involving distracted driving because of it. Distracted driving kills and injures thousands of people, and causes billions of dollars in damage every year. In fact, in 2021, more than 3,500 people were killed in wrecks involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many of these folks weren’t even in a vehicle—they were walking or riding a bicycle, for example.

We can all do our part to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving. It just takes a little planning and self-control.

Three types of driving distractions

Distracted driving involves any activity which takes your full attention away from driving. Cell phone use, talking to passengers, eating, drinking, or even adjusting vehicle controls can be dangerous distractions when you’re behind the wheel. The three main types of distraction are:

  • Manual—cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Visual—cause you to take your eyes off the road
  • Cognitive—cause you to take your mind off driving.

The most dangerous distractions involve all three—such as picking up a phone to read or send a text message. In fact, a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) study found that cell phone use, including texting, talking, and browsing, is the most common and highest risk distraction. According to Centers for Disease Control, “At 55 miles per hour, sending or reading a text message is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.”

(Remember, Florida law forbids texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving.)

Simple ways you can avoid prevent distracted driving

Don’t underestimate the risks of driving while distracted. When you’re behind the wheel, do not multi-task. Don’t make or take phone calls, or send or read texts. Don’t fiddle with music or input navigation information while you’re driving. Do these things before or after you hit the road. (We can’t stress this enough: Put down the cell phone!)

Parents, talk to your young drivers about giving their full attention to driving when they’re behind the wheel, and lead by example. Distracted driving is particularly common among younger drivers (ages 15-20).

When you’re a passenger, don’t cause distractions for the driver. Offer to help with navigation or music to help reduce distractions, and speak up if necessary to remind the driver to focus on driving.

Drivers who pay full attention while behind the wheel make the roads safer for all of us. Reducing the number of car accidents may also eventually help to lower the cost of car insurance—also something that benefits everyone.

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