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The Different Types of Distracted Driving and How to Avoid Them

by Stephen Thomas on July 16, 2013

How to Avoid Distracted Driving

Most drivers know that using a cell phone for texting or calling while driving is a bad idea. Cell phones aren’t the only major distraction behind the wheel, though. There are other distractions that aren’t as infamous, but they can be just as detrimental to safe driving and just as easily lead to a fatal accident. A responsible driver needs to take measures to cut as many of the following examples out of his or her driving experience as possible, or take steps to accommodate the unavoidable distractions which arise.

Physical Distractions

A physical distraction is anything which occupies the use of your hands or feet while driving. While it’s certainly possible to turn a steering wheel with one hand, your control over the vehicle and response time can drop significantly. Have you ever taken your hand off the wheel to change the volume on the stereo? Do you ever attempt to eat lunch, hurriedly change clothing, or apply makeup while driving? These are things which can constitute major physical distractions. Do everything you can to minimize the amount of time you have to engage your body in anything outside of safely piloting your car.

Visual Distractions

The road can be full of interesting sights which serve to take your eyes off of the pertinent hazards before you. Although a few seconds might not seem very long, it’s more than enough time for another car to suddenly pull in front of you, a pedestrian or animal to dart into the road, or any number of other dangerous circumstances to arise. If you are a voyeur for roadside car accidents or landmarks, those moments you turn your head to stare could lead to trouble. If you frequently turn around to talk to other people in the car, you are putting all of your lives at risk. Similarly, auditory distractions which compromise you ability to hear (such as playing music way too loud) are equally as dangerous.

Mental Distractions

Mental distractions can be the most dangerous. A mental distraction is anything which takes your attention and thoughts off the road and the act of driving. The more attention you put into other tasks, the less of it you have to respond to circumstances on the road and ensure the safe passage of you and your friends. Obviously, some distractions fit into more than one category. Cell phone use is notoriously dangerous because it usually requires the use of your hands, eyes, ears, and sustained attention. When you bring a screaming baby or a rowdy pet into the car, it can be a strain to ignore them and stay focused on driving. Good driving under these kinds of conditions requires discipline and practice, and you should never just assume everything will be fine.

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