Whether it’s the kids, adults, texting or even our morning coffee, distracted driving is a serious threat to road safety, distracted drivers cause one in every ten deaths on the road. So what are the worst culprits for causing dangerous distractions in the car, and how can you avoid them in the future?
The different types of driver distraction
Distraction is, to some extent, unavoidable. However, by learning what it is that distracts us, we can become safer drivers.
For example, you might think that screaming kids are as bad as it gets when it comes to auditory distractions whilst driving. However, recent research by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) indicated that adults are more distracting to drivers than children.
While a having distracting person in the car is linked to 7% of accidents, mobile phones are responsible for 12% of accidents. In 2014, 80% of drivers owned smartphones, and as this number continues to rise, the numbers of accidents caused by texting will likely rise as well. Particularly those accidents involving young adults; as younger drivers text more, and are unsurprisingly more likely to be caught texting behind the wheel. When texting, your eyes are diverted from the road for an average of 5 seconds during texting. If you’re travelling at 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.
According to researchers at Virginia Tech, the likelihood of a crash increases almost tenfold when the driver is emotionally agitated, and being ‘lost in thought’ is the most common form of distracted driving. In fact, being distracted, daydreaming or being lost in thought is linked to a staggering 62% of road accidents.
Although eating and driving isn’t illegal in the UK, a driver can be charged with dangerous driving if he or she causes an accident whilst eating. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that eating behind the wheel increases the odds of an accident by 80% Some foods are more dangerous than others of course, with coffee and soup ranked as the most distracting foods to eat on the road.
How to avoid distracted driving
Even though eating whilst driving is not illegal, you should still err on the side of caution and avoid doing so whenever possible.
Since mobile phones cause so many accidents, it’s best to not use yours at all while you’re driving. If however you find that you have to use your phone when you’re behind the wheel, do as Click4Reg recommends and use a phone holder, automated replies to calls, and employ your phone’s dictation features to reply to texts to minimise risk of distraction. You should also ensure that you’ve planned your route before you start driving.
If you find that cognitive distractions, such as emotional distress or daydreaming, are affecting you while you’re driving, then (as is the case with tiredness) pulling over when you have something on your mind is a much safer alternative than risking an incident.
With both adult and child passengers, being driven from A to B in your car should be viewed as a privilege, not a right. So if you’re worried about adults or children distracting you in your car, then you should limit the amount of passengers you carry. Let it be known that if you can’t trust them to not distract you in your car, then you can’t have them in your car at all.