Distracted driving: What you should know

Distracted driving in Wisconsin and throughout the United States poses a danger to everyone on the road. Yet, people continue to engage in these hazardous behaviors while behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,841 people were killed and more than 400,000 were injured in car accidents involving distracted driving in 2018.

When you limit the number of distractions you encounter while driving, you may help to avoid becoming involved in a catastrophic incident.

What are distractions?

Anything that diverts your attention from the task at hand is a distraction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists three main types of distractions. Manual distractions occur when you remove your hands from the steering wheel to engage in a task. Visual distractions, on the other hand, require you to take your eyes off the road. Finally, cognitive distractions take your concentration away from driving.

In order to drive safely, you must keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and focus on the road at all times. It is when people become relaxed and lose focus on driving that problems may arise.

What tasks are distracting?

Certain tasks may involve one, two or all three types of distractions. Texting and driving, for example, requires use of your hands, eyes and focus. During this time, you may be less likely to respond to hazards that come up, such as bad weather conditions, pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic signals, objects in the road and other drivers’ behavior.

Some other distracting tasks include the following:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Using voice activated technology
  • Handling kids in the back seat of the car
  • Having a heated conversation with a passenger in the car
  • Manipulating the radio
  • Programming your GPS

It is best to avoid all distractions while behind the wheel in order to stay safe and minimize your risk of getting injured in a car accident.