Forget Cellphones—Any Kind of Distraction While Driving Is Dangerous

Distracted driving is about much more than texting and cellphones.

Distracted DrivingCalifornia’s hands-free cell phone law seemed pretty straightforward when it was first adopted, but since then advancing technology has required legislators to make several updates. Even so, some gray areas remain. Specifically, there has been controversy over the non-phone functions of today’s smartphones, like maps, cameras, music players, and various other apps that are not explicitly included in the bans on talking and texting.

However, the fact of the matter is that regardless of whether or not a certain use of the phone is in violation of the hands-free law, it can still be considered distracted driving and you could get a ticket for driving unsafely. In order to prevent car accidents, it is best to avoid all distractions entirely and focus only on the road.

What Counts as Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the road. This includes visual distractions, where you are looking at something other than the road; manual distractions, where you are taking your hands off the wheel to manipulate something; and cognitive distractions, where you are thinking about something else. Some examples of common driver distractions include:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Putting on makeup
  • Reading maps
  • Using a GPS system
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Talking to passengers

Texting is considered one of the worst distractions because it involves visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. Dialing a phone is also a problem because it is a visual-manual distraction, which has been shown to make drivers 3 times as likely to have a car accident.

How Common Is Distracted Driving?

The worst form of distracted driving, driving while texting, is still quite common despite efforts to curb this behavior.

  • Over a third of drivers say they text while driving
  • A quarter of teens say they respond to at least one text while driving, and 20 percent admit having extended conversations via text
  • At any given moment, 660,000 drivers are manipulating a phone
  • Over a third of drivers say they or someone they know has been involved in a distracted driving accident

What Are the Consequences of Distracted Driving?

According to the CDC, every day about 9 people are killed and over 1,000 are injured in accidents involving a distracted driver.

Remember, if you are going 55 miles per hour and look down for 5 seconds, you have just traveled the length of a football field essentially blindfolded. You could easily have struck a person, a bicyclist, or another vehicle in that time. Do not risk it! Put the distractions away and focus on the road to help prevent accidents.

  • Fernando Vargas

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