The big issue in recent times, as most everyone is aware, is distracted driving caused by texting while driving. There are laws prohibiting texting while driving in most states which are slowly helping to stamp out this problem. In addition, all online drivers ed courses teach about the dangers of driving while texting. However, texting is only one form of distracted driving and the real emphasis should be on “distractions", which is a collection of items drivers should be aware of while driving.
The above dog is very cute and a pet most everyone would love. However, when unrestrained in a car while driving this pet can be the cause of a collision resulting in property damage and potentially human injury.
A major issue with distracted driving is that when it’s the cause of a collision it can be very difficult to prove someone was being distracted while driving. This leads to the lack of awareness in the media about the true causes of collisions, with the root of many being distracted driving of one form or another. With that in mind, lets look at the bigger picture for distracted driving.
Texting. Obvioulsy texting has received a large amount of attention recently. More than likely that text can wait and if not, safely pull off to the side of the road in order to respond to that text message.
- Unrestrained Pets. This a much bigger problem than people realize. After having recently been hit from behind by a driver with 2 unrestrained dogs in his car, I have been watching more closely. And indeed, I have noticed a large number of drivers with pets running freely in the car. No problem carrying a pet in the car, simply place it in a portable pet kennel.
- Responding to children. Young children in car seats can be particularly distracting. These young folks do not understand that their parent, who is driving the vehicle, needs to focus on the task at hand and children require attention regardless of the traffic conditions. In this case, obviously you can't ignore your children but if an extended interaction needs to happen, safely pull to the side of the road for this activity.
- Adjusting car controls. Adjusting the radio station, changing your playlist, and entering a destiniation into your navigation system are all significant forms of distraction. When possible, try to set your controls up prior to your journey. Get the playlist going before pulling out of the driveway. Set the destination in your navigation system prior to leaving the parking lot.
- Reaching for objects. This can be a major distraction and most people do not realize how badly this can impact the safety of their driving. We devoted an entire article, Don't Reach For That Falling Object, to this topic. Hint, do not reach for a moving object.
I'm sure there are many other items that are not listed here, but the idea is to make people aware that distractions come in many forms. And all of them have a dramatic negative impact on the safety of their driving.
The bottom line is that drivers should understand the entire gamut of distractions that can lead to a collision and work to minimize these distractions. It will raise the safety of the driver, passengers, and all of the other people in the vicinity.