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Distracted driving is more than just texting

Distracted driving has been an issue that has created a lot of buzz over the last several years. It has caused police officers to find new ways to crack down on it, legislators both federally and locally to institute laws to curb it, and family and friends have been encouraging each other not to do it.

There is good reason for all this increased discussion. Distracted driving that results in crashes, injuries and deaths continue to mount. Here are some of the numbers associated with the dangers of distracted driving:

  • Approximately 25 percent of all vehicle accidents that result in a death come from distracted driving.
  • Distracted driving accounts for nine fatalities a day.
  • In 2016, there were 391,000 people injured due to distracted driving which resulted in 3,450 deaths.
  • Out of all the traffic accident that teen drivers are involved in, 58 percent is because of distracted driving.

There has been so much focus on distracted driving over the last few years due to the growing use of cell phones. While cell phones have increased the amount of distracted driving, the fact is, people have been driving distracted long before the cell phone was even invented.

Here are the most common causes of distracted driving across the nation:

  • Cellphone – Cellphones have become such an all-in-one device, it is hard for people not to go to it constantly. It is not just texting that causes distractions. Talking on the phone, checking email, using the internet, viewing social media, using an app and listening to a podcast can all play a role in distracted driving.
  • Interacting with other passengers – You can quickly forget you are not at the local coffee shop with your friends or family when you are driving with them. Engaging conversation can quickly shift the focus from the road to your travel companion and make you lose critical reaction time.
  • Grooming yourself – Many people believe that being in the car doing things they should have been doing at home will save them time on their work commutes. This includes putting on makeup, hair combing, brushing teeth or just getting up-close to the mirrors in your car to examine a blemish a little closer.
  • Consuming food and drink – Another way to save time by doing something you should do somewhere else. Though using a straw may help if enjoying a beverage, if you can, refrain from eating or drinking while driving and keep focused on the road.
  • Dashboard controls – If you are driving a new car, there can be a lot of buttons and knobs to control everything from the radio to the temperature in the car. Before driving, you should be familiar with every dial and how it is used. Use the shortcut buttons on the steering wheel if you can.
  • GPS – Sometimes the screens for the GPS in cars can be small. Instead of taking your eyes off the road to get a better look, use the voice command system of the GPS.
  • Losing focus – Are you someone who can distract themselves? If you are commuting the same route day after day, it is easy for your thoughts to stray. Stress and moments of sadness while driving can also pull you away from concentrating fully on the road.

Distracted driving is not just using a cell phone while at the wheel. Anything that can take your attention away from the road can put you and others in harm’s way. Many accidents occur because drivers do not have adequate reaction times to avoid an impending disaster. The more you can keep your focus on the road while driving, the better chance you will be safe.

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