To many people, the term distracted driving means using a mobile phone at the wheel. This strong correlation comes in part from years of public awareness campaigns. Obviously, it is incredibly dangerous to use a phone while your drive, but that is far from the only form of distraction that could hurt you and the people in your vehicle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define distraction as any behavior while driving that requires that you release your grip on the wheel, take your eyes off the road or mentally focus on something other than the traffic around you. What are some of the most common distractions while driving?
Trying to multitask during a commute
The more time you spend driving to and from your job every week, the more likely you are to want to make use of those seemingly lost hours. You might try to make some business calls from your vehicle, eat a meal on the way to work or even get dressed in the car.
Grooming yourself, eating a breakfast burrito or trying to dictate a response to a business email hands-free are all still distractions that could easily lead to a collision.
Engaging with passengers or people on the phone
Having a conversation with someone can make your commute seem to fly by. Unfortunately, you feel that way because you no longer fully focus on the drive but rather on the conversation. The more emotional you become, the more distracting the conversation becomes.
If someone is in your vehicle, you might make eye contact with them or look at them instead of the road. If you talk to someone on the phone, even hands-free, the mental distraction could lead to your missing important changes in traffic ahead of you.
Entertaining yourself while driving
Are you blithely quoting along with your favorite character as your children watch a movie on the built-in screens in your vehicle? Do you let yourself become totally engrossed in murder mystery podcasts or audiobooks on your way to work? Do you sing along to the radio and have a little concert in your car?
All of those activities can make your drive more fun, but they are also taking your focus off of safety and your surroundings. Unfortunately, even if you go to extreme lengths to avoid distraction, other drivers could still hurt you in a crash. Recognizing the signs of distraction in another driver before or right after a collision could help you hold them accountable for causing a wreck.