Distracted driving is a growing issue in most states with nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involving some form of distraction within three seconds before the event. Most people assume cellphones are the only major distraction in the vehicle but that’s not always the case.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in and has the potential to distract them from the primary task of driving. Any distraction that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task can increase risk of crashes.
Texting is a major contributor to distracted driving, but what other distractions can accompany you in the car?
Most parents aren’t surprised to hear their kids are distracting, but children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers and infants are eight times more distracting. When you are driving in the car, you want to keep kids safe and not be distracted.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet suggests to bring something for kids to do, play children’s music or stories, stop often for stretching in long drives and make sure kids remain in their seat. Entertaining your children can make the ride smoother for everyone.
Similar to children, pets can be a major distraction, and also similar to children, pets can be entertained to prevent further distractions in the car. You can gate, cage or secure your pet in the car, give it a toy or bone to keep it busy, keep the temperature car comfortable and keep it out of your lap and in its own seat.
Eating or drinking
Eating or drinking while driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. Along with texting or other distracted behaviors, eating snacks or drinking beverages behind the wheel puts you at serious risks on the highway.
Avoiding this behavior is simple by eating at home or before you drive. If you can’t wait to eat or drink, stop at a fast-food restaurant or pull over to enjoy a meal before you go back on the road.
Lost in thought
Some argue the biggest cause of distracted driving fatalities is a driver’s mind wandering for long enough to lead to a collision. If you know you are a driver who is easily distracted, it’s important to stay alert. Drink water, take a walk, and get plenty of sleep before a drive.
If those tips don’t work, ask someone else to drive or carpool with someone to work. Those options allow you to stay alert and safe on the roads.