Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver's attention from the road. It can be visual, manual, or cognitive. Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road, such as looking at a cell phone, GPS device, or passenger. Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the wheel, such as eating, drinking, or adjusting the radio. Cognitive distractions involve taking your mind off the road, such as thinking about work, school, or personal problems.
Distracted driving is a serious threat to road safety. In 2021, distracted driving was involved in 3,522 fatal traffic crashes in the United States. That's an average of 10 people killed every day. Distracted driving was also involved in an estimated 424,000 nonfatal traffic crashes in 2021.
The most common form of distracted driving is cell phone use. When you use a cell phone while driving, you are taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off the task of driving. This is a recipe for disaster.
Other common forms of distracted driving include:
Eating and drinking
Talking to passengers
Adjusting the radio or other controls
Looking at maps or directions
Even brief distractions can have deadly consequences. When you're driving at 55 miles per hour, traveling the length of a football field takes just five seconds. If your eyes are off the road for even five seconds, you could miss a traffic signal, a pedestrian, or another vehicle.
There is no excuse for distracted driving. It is a dangerous and reckless behavior that puts everyone on the road at risk.
Here are some tips to help you avoid distracted driving:
Put your phone away before you start driving. Don't even answer calls or texts unless you are safely pulled over.
Avoid eating and drinking while driving.
If you need to talk to a passenger, keep it brief and your eyes on the road.
If you need to adjust the radio or other controls, do it before you start driving or when you are safely stopped.
If you are using a GPS device, program it before you start driving and follow the directions carefully.
Avoid grooming or doing other activities that take your attention away from the road.
Be aware of your surroundings and stay focused on the task of driving.
If you see someone driving distracted, report it to the police. By working together, we can make our roads safer for everyone.