The Top 5 Reasons Leading to Dangerous Distracted Driving

For most of us, our everyday life includes
driving—so much so, that it becomes almost mundane. In fact, many who commute
to and from work every day will admit that there are times they arrive at work
or home with virtually no memory of the actual drive. Driving on congested
roadways is an inherently dangerous task, and those dangers are not only on the
outside, from the other drivers, but also exist in the interior of the vehicle.
Distracted driving has quickly moved up the list as a factor in auto accidents,
and, some believe is the number one cause of collisions.

Conservative estimates are that at least one-fourth of all
car collisions are the result of distractions
, although this number is likely
much higher—after all, how many people involved in an accident want to admit
their distraction caused a serious accident? Distractions inside the vehicle
significantly impact the ability of the driver to keep his or her attention and
focus on the road, and drive safely—so much so, that AAA
studied the situation, looking at a number of potentially hazardous
distractions which divert the attention of drivers.

In this particular study, participants
were asked to perform tasks while not driving, while driving in a simulator,
and while driving a car in a real-world situation.  Brake reaction times, following distances,
brainwave activities and eye and head movements were used to measure the levels
of distraction for the drivers. The drivers were first asked to listen to the
radio, however the volume and station had to be set prior to the driver
actually driving. The study found that listening to the radio—if you are not
fiddling with dials—is not a significant distraction, although listening to an
audiobook was found to be more distracting than listening to music only.

Top
Five Causes of Dangerous Distracted Driving

Driver distraction increased when the test
participants talked to passengers in the vehicle. Even though the drivers were
not allowed to turn their heads to look at the passenger they were listening to
and speaking to, the distraction levels were about halfway between “not that
distracting,” and “severely distracting.” The top five distractions for drivers
turned out to be:

1.     
Talking on a cell
phone

is moderately distracting for drivers, whether the cell phone is hand-held, or
hands-free. Although the use of handheld cellphones has been banned in many
states, a significant number of studies have found that hands-free cellphone
conversations do not significantly lessen the distractions. Hand-free does not
prevent cognitive distraction, and, according to some, cognitive distraction is
the most dangerous (visual and manual distraction are the other two types of
distractions). Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA, stated that “Increased mental workload and cognitive
distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where
motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them
.” Texting is
even more dangerous than talking on your cell phone, as it combines all three
types of distractions—cognitive, manual and visual. Texting is a particular
problem for teens, who already have extremely high crash rates due to
inexperience.

2.     
Another
primary cause of distracted driving is being
“lost in thought.”
Far too many of us drive while thinking about what we will
cook for dinner, what happened at work, what the children are doing—in other
words, our minds are on everything except
the task at hand, which is driving. Some research concludes that being lost in
thought is probably the number one cause of distracted driving accidents, even
ahead of cell phone use, but in truth, being lost in thought, probably
accompanies other distractions much of the time. If your mind often wanders
while you are driving, make a concerted effort to concentrate on your driving
and the other drivers around you.

3.     
Outside persons,
objects or events account for at least 7 percent
of all distracted
driving crashes. Sometimes known as the “looky-loo” syndrome, many of us will
gawk at accidents or people in other cars instead of focusing on the road in
front of us and drivers around us. Many drivers are also guilty of reading
advertisement signs instead of paying attention to their driving.

4.     
Having another
person in your vehicle accounts for at least 5 percent of all distracted
driving accidents
,
particularly if those “people” are children. In an Australian study, researchers
found that having children in the vehicle is a staggering 12 times more
distracting to the driver than talking on a cell phone. Further, the average
parent takes his or her eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds
during a short, 16-minute trip. Parents find themselves breaking up fights
between squabbling siblings, calming a fussy baby, picking up dropped toys,
bottles and juice cups, and watching the children in the rear-view mirror for
long periods of time.

5.     
Eating
and drinking is considered to be the fifth most dangerous reason for distracted
driving accidents. Many of us use our vehicle as a restaurant, as we are
constantly on the go, and do not want to take the time to stop and eat. We
drink our coffee on the way to work, and eat our lunch with one hand as we fly
down the freeway at 70 mph.

Other typical causes of distracted driving
include adjusting audio or climate controls, using devices and controls to
operate the vehicle, moving objects in the vehicle (insects and pets,
primarily), and smoking, are all causes of dangerous distracted driving
accidents. To avoid a serious accident, it is imperative that you focus on your
driving only when you are behind the wheel. 

3 Comments

  1. tannawings
    December 23, 2017 / 7:46 am

    I have heard and seen studies where talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as a drunk driver. It is amazing how many do it even in states where it is illegal. Texting wasnt mentioned, but that another huge one and so many text now rather than talk.ellen beck

  2. Janet W.
    December 23, 2017 / 2:14 pm

    It's ridiculous how many times I see distracted drivers on their cell phones either talking or texting. I can usually tell with how someone is driving when I'm behind them if they're on the phone.

  3. slehan
    December 24, 2017 / 3:49 am

    I turn my phone off when I get in my car. slehan at juno dot com

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