What Are Some of The Top Distractions For Drivers?

What Are Some of The Top Distractions For Drivers?
  • Opening Intro -

    Driving distracted is an all too-common trend for almost any driver these days.

    With so much technology at our fingertips, among other things, it’s easy to direct attention elsewhere.

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By Kyle O’Brien

That’s not to say it’s a good thing. In fact, nationwide gathered statistics on drivers who use their cell phones for either texting or conversing. As the picture below indicates, the numbers are alarming in some cases.

In the study, those driving and texting/talking on the phone at the same time are about four times likely to be involved in a wreck. Once more, a little scientific tidbit reveals that talking on the phone or texting decreases brain activity (see: focus) by around 37 percent. Honestly, I knew cell phones were distracting, but for wireless devices to steal that much attention from our brain waves should be cause to pause any and all driving if you absolutely must use the phone.

This all got me thinking, what are some other common distractions out there? Surely we’ve all done at least one of them somewhere in our driving history. Off the top of my head, these are some of the most common ones I’ve seen or heard of.

1. Eating or Drinking: Whether it’s because people don’t like lukewarm food or if their tummy is growling uncontrollably, people routinely eat or drink while driving.

2. Applying Makeup: People who run around in the morning and can’t squeeze in the couple minutes to apply makeup compensate by doing it in the car. Granted, some try and get most of it done while at a stoplight, but there are others who have done it while on the highway.

3. Surveying a Wreck/Police: Many accidents spurn other accidents because drivers for some reason or another feel the need to survey the damage. Or they’re distracted while looking at a police officer stop someone else and rear-end the car in front of them because that car slowed down, too.

4. Wandering Minds: Or they’re just distracted, period. Their minds are wandering aimlessly, they’re staring at a hawk or bird flying around from tree to tree, gazing at flags or banners flapping in the wind, and so on.

5. Reading a Book/ Filling Out Crosswords: Not as common (thankfully!), but a serious distraction, nonetheless. Drivers who wish to read novels or catch up on the morning newspaper articles are either some of the best multitaskers out there…or they’re supremely lucky. I’m going with the latter. In fact, a daring few have even tried filling out crosswords atop their steering wheels which has to be way too much brain activity for one area.

6. Picking Up Fallen Items: Dropping an item onto the floor or between the cracks of the seat and middle console can easily shift your attention in a matter of seconds. There’s the whole quick glances back and forth from floor to road vision and it almost seems that we’re too focused on trying to fish out a meaningless object instead of being a careful driver. Fender benders at stoplights could easily be the root cause of a driver searching their floors for something.

7. Conversing With Passengers: Being too focused with a conversation or feeling the need to have to give eye contact with that person can easily lead to an accident. Depending on the nature of the conversation, the more attentive we are to the topic, the less devotion we’re potentially putting towards the road.

8. Smoking: While it’s hard to accurately get an exact percentage, experts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggest drivers who smoke cigarettes are nearly two to three times more vulnerable to getting into an accident. Whether it goes back to stimulating the brain waves away from the road or dropping a lit cigarette inside the cabin of the car unintentionally, there’s enough speculation to suggest it’s difficult to drive with one hand and smoke with the other.

Fixing The Dilemma

Much of the distraction stems from mismanaging situations beforehand. For some, it’s feeling over-rushed in the morning and trying to accomplish three or more tasks all at once. Others simply have a quick, but unfortunate lapse in focus that may lead to a fender bender down the road.

It’s not like this distraction dilemma’s being given the cold shoulder, either.

Various states have enacted regulations that have banned the use of cell phones while driving, run endless campaigns on the effects and dangers of texting and driving, and have made sure that those in violation pay a hefty fine. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself the best multitasker on the planet, because the well-being of yourself and others on the road is what matters most.

Author Information

Kyle O’Brien writes for Cable-Dahmer Chevy and covers topics ranging from used car sales, car maintenance tips and tricks and more.

Photos:  Paul Vasarhelyi

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