In an effort to help curb distracted driving and bring awareness to the very real and growing problem Michigan drivers face today on the road, April has been deemed Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted Driving is any activity that takes away the attention of the person behind the wheel of a vehicle from doing their primary task of driving. It can include visual distractions, physical distractions, cognitive distractions and auditory distractions.
Visual Distraction – taking your eyes off the road to look at something either inside or outside of the vehicle. This can include reading a text, looking at someone inside the vehicle or watching something outside the vehicle such as an accident. These distractions keep you from seeing dangers on the road you may encounter.
Physical Distraction – means moving one or both of your hands off the steering wheel to do something else in the vehicle. It can include changing the channel on the radio, reaching for your phone, petting their dog, eating, drinking or handing something to a passenger. These distractions keep you from being able to react quickly to situations.
Cognitive Distraction – not thinking about the act of driving while behind the wheel. Also known as mental distractions, they happen anytime your mind is not focused on driving and could involve thinking about a problem, daydreaming and having a conversation with someone else in the vehicle or on the phone. These distractions keep you from being able to recognize dangers ahead.
Auditory Distraction – noises or sounds that distract you from the task of driving. These can include instances where the driver gets distracted by hearing something such as a notification on their cell phone, kids fighting, a baby crying, loud music or a ringing phone. These distractions can cause you to miss things such as hearing emergency vehicle sirens notifying you they are coming through an intersection, a honking horn that could help you avoid an accident or a hear that a train is coming down the track.
How can we prevent them?
Distracted driving is the cause of 58% of accidents involving teens, over 4,600 fatalities and costs society $40 billion in a single year alone! When you consider all that distracted driving costs us, it’s no wonder it’s become the focal point of safety experts, who offer these tips to keep you and those you love from becoming distracted while they are behind the wheel.
As the driver of the vehicle, you are responsible for not only the people riding in your vehicle but also for maintaining control of your vehicle in a safe and legal manner. Most states have some type of restrictions on cell phone use while driving but even if your state does not, make the wise decision to put your phone away, either in a compartment or bag that can’t be easily reached to avoid the temptation of checking it when you receive a notification or phone call. While it may not seem like a big deal, it’s important to resist the urge to save time and eat while you’re driving to avoid spilling items which obviously would become a large distraction. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the dash controls in your vehicle and set up your GPS before departing to avoid having to take your hands off the steering wheel any more than need be.
One of the best ways to help the driver of a vehicle stay focused on driving is to not be distracting yourself or help take care of distractions they encounter when possible. If they are tempted to read a text or a phone call, offer to read it or answer it for them or if there are small children who need something, be the one who helps them so the driver can do the most important job they have at the moment which is to drive. For parents of teens, help them avoid becoming distracted by too many passengers by limiting who and how many people can ride with them.
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