One of the leading causes of auto accidents in the last decade has been distracted driving. In fact, in 2019, 3,142 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in the United States. And each year, about 400,000 people suffer injuries in a distracted driving crash – and often they are pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists hit by a distracted driver.
The dangers of distracted driving
Distracted driving is dangerous because when motorists drive while distracted, they aren’t paying attention to the road and traffic around them. The longer a driver is distracted, the higher likelihood of a serious accident occurring. If a driver doesn’t notice the car in front them stops suddenly, they may not brake at all to avoid a crash. Instead, the distracted driver could hit another car at full force.
One reason some states, such as Connecticut, have banned drivers from having a phone in their hand is that cell phone use often encompasses all forms of distracted driving:
- Manual – Drivers can’t have both their hands on the wheel and hold a cell phone too.
- Visual – When a driver looks at a cell phone text message or screen, they aren’t watching the road ahead.
- Cognitive – When a driver is engaged in a phone conversation, or texting, while driving, they aren’t thinking about driving and staying safe.
Texting while driving is particularly dangerous. If a driver is texting, their eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds. If you are traveling 55 miles per hour, you will travel the length of a football field in those seconds – plenty of time to miss seeing a bicyclist, motorcyclist or another car come into your path.
Ways to avoid distracted driving
Some of the easiest ways to avoid distracted driving include the following:
- Put your phone behind the front seat and turn it off so you won’t feel temptation to use it while driving.
- Download an app that won’t allow you to use your phone while driving.
- Have a passenger help navigate where you are going.
- Pull over at a safe spot if you need to make an urgent call while driving.
Just a few seconds of distraction can cause a devastating crash, where you or a passenger in your vehicle could suffer debilitating injuries. That’s why it’s important to avoid distractions when you drive – for your safety and that of others too.