Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert your attention away from the main task of driving.1 It is something that is both dangerous and disturbingly common. In fact, an estimated 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving during daylight hours.2 You may be surprised to learn that cell phones and texting are just part of the problem when it comes to distracted driving. While stowing your phone while you drive is an important safety step, other behaviors behind the wheel, from drinking coffee to using a navigation system, may also be putting you at risk.
“The fact is, everything that occupies your mind or your vision can contribute to distraction behind the wheel,” explains Chris Hayes, Safety Professional from Travelers. “While many distracted driving studies focus on cell phones, any type of multi-tasking activity and driving simply do not mix.”
A list of driving distractions may include:
- Dialing or using a smartphone;
- Eating or drinking;
- Talking to passengers;
- Programming a GPS or navigation system;
- Adjusting a radio or MP3 player.
Travelers logo. A man is texting on his cellphone.
CHRIS: That's the average length of time it takes to send a text. And if I were driving, a car would've traveled the length of a football field. My eyes would have been off the road the entire time.
Texting, sending an email, surfing the internet - these things increase your chance of having an accident by 23 times. But texting isn't the only distraction. Reading a map, reaching for something you drop, dialing a phone are just a few of the examples.
So when you're hitting the road, remember these things. Visual distractions are like driving with your eyes closed. If you are awake, alert, and looking at something, you aren't as likely to hit it. And distraction is much more than just texting and cell phones.
I'm Chris. I'm the safety consultant at Travelers. Learn more about how to prepare and prevent accidents at travelers.com/distracteddriving.
Chris is standing and talking.
Text, Travelers. It's better under the umbrella. The information provided in this video is intended for use as a guideline and is not intended as, nor does it constitute, legal, technical, or professional advice. Travelers does not warrant that adherence to, or compliance with, any recommendations, best practices, or guidelines will result in a particular outcome. In no event will Travelers or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates be liable in tort or in contract to anyone who has access to or uses the information provided in the video. Travelers does not warrant that the information in this video constitutes a complete and finite list of each and every item or procedure related to the topics or issues referenced herein. Furthermore, federal, state, or local laws, regulations, standards, or codes may change from time to time, and the reader should always refer to the most current requirements. This material does not amend, or otherwise affect, the provisions or coverages of any insurance policy or bond issued by Travelers, nor is it a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy or bond. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy or bond provisions, and any applicable law.
It may not be surprising to learn that your brain is only capable of processing a certain amount of information at any given time.
When we attempt to perform multiple tasks at the same time, like driving while talking on the phone or eating, we can encounter performance problems. Multiple tasks tend to compete for our brain's attention.
It may sound like an assumed fact, but you have to look where you are going when driving. Regardless, we see people driving without looking where they are going every day. Driving while visually distracted can be as dangerous as driving with your eyes closed. You would not make a turn or change lanes with your eyes closed, yet, distracted drivers are, in effect, doing just that.
Imagine driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. That is the equivalent of texting while driving at 55 mph. Because texting takes our attention away for an average of 4.6 seconds3, we are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Some other common distractions most of us are very familiar with include eating, adjusting music or GPS devices, applying makeup, reading, and reaching for moving objects. Each of these tasks can dramatically increase your odds of getting into an accident.
Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it requires manual, visual and cognitive distraction at the same time, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. government’s official website on distracted driving.
Cognitive, Visual or Both?
Distraction can keep you from driving safely in multiple ways. Any distraction, regardless of how quick or harmless it may seem, should be avoided when you are behind the wheel. Remember to keep your eyes and brain focused on the road at all times.
Setting a Good Example
Avoiding sending text messages or calling someone you know is on the road can help prevent them from distraction. Parents can set a good example for children by modeling attentive driving, including putting away the phone and not eating or grooming behind the wheel. Learn more about talking to your teen driver.
1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving.
3 Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations, FMCSA, 2009.
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From stowing your phone to speaking up when you see distracted driving, these tips can help avoid dangerous activity on the road.