Distracted driving is deadly driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, 8 people die and 1,161 people are injured in distracted driving accidents each day. Thanks to public service announcements, most drivers know about the dangers of texting and driving, but this is just one of many distractions. Here are five distractions that lots of drivers don’t even think about.
Eating or Drinking
Lots of people eat in the car. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be so many drive-thrus. Some foods take your attention off of the road more than others, but any eating — or drinking — is distracted driving. Whether snacking on chips, eating a burger or drinking a cup of coffee, your hand is off the steering wheel, and your eyes often drop down to your food or beverage for at least a moment. Although this is a common practice, it can be a dangerous one.
Smoking has many health risks. One that’s not frequently talked about is how much it distracts drivers. If you smoke, lighting up, smoking and discarding ashes all require your attention for at least a few seconds, during which time you’re not focused on the road. Depending on what you smoke, whether it’s cigarettes, cigars, a pipe or something else, you may be distracted for just a second or a dangerously long amount of time.
Adjusting the Radio or Temperature
Even something as simple as changing the radio station, or adjusting the air conditioning or heat can take your focus away from the road in front of you. It may just take a minute, but reaching down to press a button or turn a dial can distract you — especially if you aren’t used to the car and need to look down to see where the controls are.
Using Your Cellphone at a Red Light
As mentioned, it’s widely known that using your cellphone while driving is extremely distracting (and illegal in many areas). Many people, however, continue to use their cell phones, at least when they’re at a red light. This is still a form of distracted driving, though.
Although you may be stopped at a red light, you should still be focused on the road and cars around you. If someone rear ends you, you’ll need to instantly know where a safe zone that you can direct your car to is. Should you be looking down at your phone, it’ll take you a few extra seconds to react. During those seconds, you’ll be sitting in an intersection while the cross traffic has a green light.
Parenting from the Front Seat
Few things are more distracting than two kids fighting in the back seat. As annoying as it is, parents can’t afford to take their focus off of the road in front of them while resolving a dispute over who’s on who’s side or who should be able to choose the next video. If a conflict can’t be easily resolved, pull over so you can properly parent and then safely drive.
Aside from using your cell phone, all of these distractions are legal in most areas. They also all increase your chances of being in an accident. To learn more about distracted driving and strategies to handle distractions in the car, consider enrolling in CA traffic school. You may not figure out the best way to eat an overstuffed taco without making a mess or to resolve a brother-sister fight, but you’ll gain strategies and techniques to keep you and yours safe when you’re faced with these situations.