Distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions in this country. With the rise of mobile technology, there are simply too many potential distractions for people to avoid them all. However, mobile phones and tablets are not the only problem leading to dangerous distractions behind the wheel. People getting lost in thought or bored is a leading cause of distraction.
While they do pose a significant risk, screens are not the only thing keeping drivers from focusing on what is most important on the road. Understanding the major causes of distraction in a vehicle can help you in two ways. First, it can help you avoid engaging in distractions when you drive. Second, it can help you identify if someone else is driving while distracted.
Conversations and other people in the vehicle are a common issue
Distraction caused by other people in the vehicle is a common problem. This source of distraction is so significant that some states actually restrict whether teenagers can drive in vehicles with one another. Even adults may find it difficult to split their attention between an engaging conversation and safely maneuvering on the road.
Unfortunately, someone doesn't even need to be in the vehicle with you to be a distraction. If you are on the phone, even if you are hands-free, your risk of having a crash could go up. The more involved you become, and emotional you get, the greater your risk of failing to focus on what really matters. If you find yourself feeling stressed, depressed or otherwise agitated by a conversation, you should stop it until you reach your destination.
Watch for signs of person-related distraction in other drivers. Full seats are one risk, as is any sign of a loud or emotional conversation on a cellphone, even if the driver is hands-free.
Daily self-care is a common distraction, too
Sometimes, the things that keep people from focusing on the road are themselves. Many people choose to do things like eating and drinking while at the wheel. They may feel like they are saving time and speeding up their daily routines by combining one activity they can't avoid with another.
However, not only does eating and drinking take at least one hand off the wheel, it also presents the risk of spilling. Eating itself is distracting, but when you get a lap full of hot burrito or coffee, you might stomp on the brakes or swerve your wheel suddenly.
Sometimes, you may even see people who change their clothing, put on ties or apply makeup while in control of a vehicle. Some people save this behavior for while they're stopped in a traffic jam, but others will do it at any time. If you see people eating or grooming themselves at the wheel, give them plenty of space.