Apr 13 2018

Distracted Driving — Why It’s Dangerous And How To Avoid It

Did you know that April is officially Distracted Driving Awareness Month? Here at Bearingstar Insurance, we understand that distractions happen while driving, but we also know that it’s important to stay focused on the road, no matter what. This is especially true for parents — remember, you’re setting the example for future drivers!

Whether you’re a parent looking for talking points and advice to keep your child safe behind the wheel or just a driver who could use a little extra help avoiding distractions, here are some important statistics and tips to help you not only understand the dangers of distracted driving, but also avoid this risky behavior altogether.

What is distracted driving?

Anything that takes your focus away from the road ahead and your surroundings is a distraction when driving. To make it easier to understand, you can divide common distractions into three major categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off of the road while a manual distraction is anything that forces you to take your hands off of the steering wheel. A cognitive distraction, on the other hand, is anything that takes your mind off of the task of driving.

In many cases, common dangerous driving behaviors can include multiple types of distractions. For example, when you respond to a text message, you are taking your eyes off of the road to look at your phone, using your hands to type, and thinking about your response instead of the task of driving — all three types of distractions.

Why is distracted driving dangerous?

When you aren’t focused on the road, you’re not just putting yourself and your passengers at risk, you’re putting everyone on the road around you at risk as well. According the the Center for Disease Control, an average of 9 people are killed and 1,000 people are injured in crashes related to distracted driving behaviors every single day in America. Moreover, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 10% of all fatal car crashes and 15% of all car crashes that result in injury in the US are caused by distracted drivers.

Beyond cell phone use, what are other common distractions for drivers?

While cell phone use is likely one of the most common forms of distracted driving, there are several other behaviors that can also be dangerous for drivers. Eating or drinking, engaging in grooming tasks like fixing your hair or makeup, changing the radio station, setting your GPS, or even reaching for items in your car can all affect your focus when you’re behind the wheel.

How can I avoid distracted driving?

Here are some tips to help you focus when driving:

  • Put your phone on silent mode or ‘do not disturb’ so you aren’t distracted by notifications.
  • If you can’t resist the urge to look at your phone, put it upside down or out of reach. The center console, glove compartment box, or even back seat are great places to stash your phone while you’re driving.
  • Make sure you’re ready to go before you get in the car. Finish eating, getting ready, and setting your music and GPS before you start driving.
  • Talk to your passengers and make sure they work with you to help minimize distractions.
  • Always keep both hands on the steering wheel when driving.
  • Place items you may need, like a water bottle or sunglasses, in a place that’s easily accessible so you’re not searching for them while driving.
  • Make sure all items are secure in your car before you go — reaching for something rolling around in the backseat can be a major distraction while driving.
  • If something comes up as you’re driving that does require your attention, safely pull over before addressing it.

We hope these tips help you stay safe on the road this month, and always! If you’d like to learn more about how distractions can inhibit your ability to safely drive, Bearingstar Insurance will be hosting three Distractology events for inexperienced drivers in partnership with the Arbella Insurance Foundation this year. You can find dates and more information on these events by visiting the Distractology website: http://bit.ly/2DZe6JZ

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