How often have we been told to stay off our phones while driving? We have all heard or seen the tips about planning a playlist ahead of time, using hands-free calling and text-to-talk, and having the destination plugged into the GPS before leaving. But a phone isn’t the only potential distraction when behind the wheel.
In 2020, an estimated 324,652 people were injured on U.S. roadways as a result of distracted driving. Not to mention that 8% of fatal crashes, 14% of injury crashes, and 13% of vehicle collisions can be tied back to driver distraction as a contributing factor, according to the NDDC.
And this isn’t just commuters and people running errands. In a 2017 survey, 45% of truck drivers of large trucks admitted to using a cell phone while driving. And that doesn’t even touch on drivers who are eating, checking their next stop on a list, or reaching over to give their pet a rub on the head.
When it comes to distracted driving, distractions can be bucketed into three main categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. Here is an example of each one:
- Visual – This is when your eyes leave the road. In addition to your phone, this could be checking out a crash site, looking for an item that just fell off your seat, or even checking out a super funny meme on your passenger's phone.
- Manual – This is when you take your hands off the wheel to grab something else. It could be helping your child find their pacifier, adjusting your in-car entertainment, grabbing your coffee, or even fixing your hair.
- Cognitive – This is when you take your mind off the road and are not fully focused. You could be in a deep conversation with your passenger, thinking about your next big appointment, or even daydreaming.
Even quick distractions can have unfortunate consequences. A recent claim example saw a commercial driver cause a fatal accident when they took their eyes off the road for three seconds to place their coffee mug in a cupholder. So, next time you get behind the wheel—whether in your personal car or a commercial vehicle—be aware of visual, manual, and cognitive distractions and look to prevent them in any way possible.