For most people, the term distracted driving will conjure up mental images of someone recording a Tik Tok video or reading a text message. Thanks in part to public awareness campaigns, distracted driving has almost become synonymous with the use of a phone while at the wheel.
The truth is that distraction comes from all sorts of sources, and you might actually drive distracted every day without realizing that you’re doing it, increasing your risk of a motor vehicle crash. There are many hidden but still dangerous forms of distraction people experience while driving.
Talking to your passengers
It seems perfectly normal to talk with other people in your vehicle as a way to pass time during your commute. However, focusing on someone could mean that you don’t pay enough attention to the road.
This risk is even higher if the passengers in your car are children who might do unpredictable things like kick your seat or scream without provocation. A quick reaction to a child’s noises or behavior might mean missing changing road circumstances in front of you or even jerking on the wheel and possibly swerving the vehicle. The same is true for your dog, which is one reason why it might be smart to have your canine companion in the back seat instead of in the front seat next to you.
Singing along with the radio
While few things may feel as joyful as belting out the words to your favorite song while cruising down the highway, when you get wrapped up in your musical performance, you won’t be paying as much attention to the road around you and the safety of everyone else.
Using screens installed by the manufacturer or hands-free devices
Even if you use your car’s proprietary system to make a phone call or a text to talk program keep your eyes on the road, you will still be mentally distracted by the call or the messages. Interacting with GPS systems or the screens installed in your vehicle by the manufacturer can also be a source of distraction.
Eating and drinking at the wheel can be quite dangerous
Many people choose to eat their breakfast or a quick snack on their way to work in the morning or on their way home in the afternoon. Others might indulge in a hot coffee. The risk for a crash increases because your mind is focused on your food and at least one of your hands will have to come off the wheel. You could potentially spill, which could intensify your distraction. It’s best to eat when you aren’t actively driving.
Several other common behaviors, like reaching into the backseat or driving when you need to take a bathroom break or while feeling very emotional, can impact your ability to drive. Trying to stay focused on safety and the task at hand should be a top priority when you drive.