Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of preventable deaths every year and tens of thousands of less severe motor vehicle collisions. Even though people know that car crashes are a constant concern on the road, they often struggle to keep their focus on the task at hand.
Those with long commutes may want to cut down on what they perceive as lost time every day, while many others may unintentionally engage in distracted driving out of habit or reflex. Changes in behavior and better compliance with traffic laws would likely prevent the majority of collisions that occur, including most distracted driving crashes. Although public awareness of distracted driving has increased in recent years, motorists still engage in behaviors that distract them from safety at the wheel. Why does distraction while driving represent such a serious threat?
People are often addicted to their devices
Smart devices have gone from being luxury accessories to borderline necessities in recent years. Parents often need smartphones to access the apps for their children’s schools, while professionals need constant communication with employers or clients.
Most adults and a large number of young adults have smartphones, and a significant percentage of those people have developed an unhealthy dependence on a sense of constant connection. People find it increasingly difficult to put down their devices, even for a few minutes. The average driver will probably cross paths with at least a few people using their devices while driving during any given trip in a motor vehicle.
People don’t understand what constitutes distraction
Quite a few people refuse to use a smart device while driving but still engage in distraction without realizing it. The laws about distracted driving may only discuss mobile devices, but distraction can come from anywhere.
Other occupants of a vehicle, the radio or even road work nearby could become sources of visual and cognitive distraction that lead to people making mistakes at the wheel. Eating or drinking, adjusting vehicle settings and grooming behaviors are all examples of distractions that take someone’s hands off of the wheel and would therefore increase their reaction time.
Even if an individual driver does everything in their power to avoid distraction, they have no way to eliminate unsafe behaviors on the part of others. Avoiding distraction and watching for signs of distraction in others may help people improve their safety on the road. Those who do get into a crash may be able to file an insurance claim or initiate a lawsuit to hold a distracted driver accountable for their poor choices.