You may think that glancing at your phone or getting lost in your own thoughts for a few moments are harmless things to do when driving.
However, in 2017, over 3,000 people in America were killed in a motor vehicle accident that occurred because of distracted driving. That means that drivers need to beware of distracted drivers–and of the things that distract themselves.
Distracted driving can be divided into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. Learning about the different kinds of distractions that may occur while you’re driving will help you to become more aware of your own drifting attention so that you can stop distractions in their tracks.
Read on to find out texting and driving facts along with other distracted driving statistics. Plus, we’ll talk about the kinds of trouble distracted driving can get you into!
Visual Distractions: Texting and Driving Facts
Visual distractions include anything that prompts you to take your eyes off the road. This could be your child or pet in the backseat, the bottle of water rolling around out of reach, or the cellphone in your lap.
The majority of people have confessed to using their phone while driving, but that’s not a statistic that justifies your own behavior. It only takes a few seconds of looking away from the road to cause an accident. 1.6 million motor vehicle accidents occur every year from cellphone use, alone.
If you’re waiting for an important phone call or text, don’t start driving until you’ve received it and the conversation is through. If the buzzing of a notification makes you itch to see what it is, turn your phone on silent or place it out of sight and out of hearing range. And remember, no YouTube video or Instagram post is worth the loss of a life or even an increased insurance policy.
Manual Distractions: Green Means Stop Fidgeting with the Radio
Manual distractions are defined as distractions caused by the car, itself. We understand the alarm you might feel if a strange light comes on the dash or the annoyance of hearing a song you hate on the radio. Rather than fidgeting with your car while driving, pull over or ask your passenger for assistance.
There aren’t many statistics regarding the number of accidents caused by manual distractions. It’s estimated that less than 1% of distracted driving accidents are caused by using entertainment systems like stereos.
One way to cut down on manual distractions is to have your car regularly inspected and serviced. If something like your check engine light comes on, you’ll know that nothing too serious is occurring. You can pay attention to the road until you’re safely parked.
Cognitive Distractions: Leave Your Daydreams Until You’re Parked
Cognitive distractions occur when your mind is focused on something internal, rather than on the physical act of driving. The same study that revealed that approximately 1% of distracted drivers are using an entertainment system found that an estimated 3.6% of distracted drivers are deep in thought.
If you’re highly concerned about something, anxious, or too tired to focus, don’t drive. Even if you’re a highly experienced driver, you still need to be alert when behind the wheel, especially when there’s a ton of traffic.
In case you’re wondering what counts as “too tired,” the Sleep Foundation gives a good breakdown. According to their studies, driving when you’ve been awake for 18 hours straight is comparable to driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.5. Stay awake for 24 hours straight and that number goes up to 0.10, which is above the legal limit. Obviously, you won’t get a DUI from being over-tired, but you could cause an accident.
Repercussions for Distracted Driving
When it comes to distracted driving, the primary concern is for your safety and the safety of others around you. But what about the legal repercussions?
Distracted driving has become enough of a concern that all states have laws addressing the issue. In fact, 21 states prohibit drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving. All but 2 states have outlawed texting while driving.
Montana and Missouri are the only states that don’t have a ban on texting and driving for all drivers. However, Missouri does have a law that bans texting and driving for drivers under the age of 21.
That means that even if you come out of an accident injury-free, you can get fined or have your license suspended if it is found that you were texting when the accident occurred. If the accident leads to major injuries or death, you may even go to prison.
In almost all cases where an accident is found to be your fault, your insurance rates will go up. Depending on the state in which you reside, you may be able to counteract that by taking and completing an online defensive driving course. If you’re getting into accidents because of distracted driving, a defensive driving course that will refresh your memory on proper driving protocol may be just what the doctor ordered.
Cut the Distractions
It’s time to face the texting and driving facts: distracted driving is too risky. When the car is on, your mind needs to be focused on your driving and the behavior of drivers around you. Don’t become a statistic because you were eager to answer a text or change the song on the radio.
If you’ve already caused an accident due to distracted driving, enroll in our online defensive driving course. You can lower your insurance rates and improve your driving all from the comfort of your home. Check out our free demo and start learning how to drive defensively!