A daily commute can be a tedious, boring part of the day, especially when stuck in bumper-to-bumper Dallas traffic. Many drivers turn to devices to make their commutes more enjoyable, scrolling through social media on smartphones or grabbing a bite to eat on the go. Unfortunately, any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road can be deadly.
In 2014, distracted driving killed 3,179 people and injured 431,000 more in the United States. Distracted drivers are unable to react to changes in roadway conditions or hazards in time to avoid collisions. The best way to put an end to distracted driving is to understand what activities are dangerous behind the wheel. Avoid becoming a statistic by avoiding these 10 most deadly car ride distractions.
Lost in Thought
The most deadly distraction in your car is getting lost in thought. Driving can be a soothing, therapeutic task that causes some drivers to detach from reality. Driving in a haze, daydreaming, or in autopilot can slow your reaction time and increase your odds of crashing. According to a report by Erie Insurance, 62% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were lost in thought.
Cell Phone Use
Surprisingly, cell phones do not come in at the top of the list of deadly distractions. They account for about 12% of fatal distracted driving accidents. Thirteen states ban the use of cell phones behind the wheel for all drivers, while 37 (Texas included) ban them for teen drivers only. Texting, talking, dialing, listening, and accessing the Internet on a mobile device while driving cause thousands of car accidents every year.
Staring at outside events, such as a car accident, leads to about 7% of accidents. Drivers take their eyes away from the road for extended periods of time to look at an event, object, or person, and crash into the back of the vehicle in front of them. Drivers should always keep their eyes on the road ahead.
Other occupants in vehicles can cause an accident by distracting the driver or moving the driver’s hands or feet, such as jerking the wheel away as a joke. Bad company in your car can easily lead to an accident from occupants talking too loudly, making conversation that upsets you emotionally, or physically making you crash.
Reaching for Objects
Drivers who try to reach for objects in their vehicles, such as napkins from the glove box, headphones, or navigational devices account for 2% of all distracted driving crashes. Drivers are especially at risk of reaching for devices they bring into their vehicles.
Eating and Drinking
Eating and drinking while driving is one of the most common mistakes drivers make. Many drivers are in the habit of eating breakfast or sipping coffee on morning commutes, or taking lunch breaks on the go in their vehicles. Saving a few extra minutes isn’t worth the risk of a major traffic accident.
Changing Vehicle Controls
Fiddling with the devices or controls in your vehicle can take your eyes away from the road just long enough to cause an accident. Changing the radio station, air conditioning, repositioning your mirrors, moving your seat, or using a GPS navigation system while driving can be fatal distractions.
Moving objects in the car can cause a distraction or lead to an object impeding the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. Moving objects may include pets or insects inside the car that take a driver’s eyes, hands, or attention away from the road.
Activities relating to lighting cigarettes or other items, as well as ashing a cigarette in a car ashtray, can cause a distracted driving accident. Lighting a cigarette takes a driver’s eyes and hands away from the driving task, leaving him or her prone to crashes.