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What is distracted driving?

What is distracted driving?

Driver Texting While Driving


Let's say that you're in the car and...

  • a song that you hate comes on the radio, so you reach over to find another station;
  • you are texting a friend to let them know you're running late;
  • you need to eat lunch in a hurry, so you have one hand on the wheel and the other holding a sandwich;
  • you are looking up directions to your destination on your smartphone;
  • a sharp turn knocks your open can of soda on the floor, so you reach down to pick it up.

Do any of these sound familiar? All of these situations are examples of distracted driving, and all of them could put you, other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians in danger.

Defining Distracted Driving

What exactly is distracted driving? Some types of distracted driving include...

  • sending and reading text messages,
  • talking on a cell phone,
  • eating,
  • grooming,
  • changing a radio station, CD track, or MP3 track,
  • reading a map,
  • and talking to a passenger in the car.

Distracted driving is a problem that a lot of drivers don’t think about, primarily because these activities are a part of everyday life. Doing them in the car is practically second nature, but these activities take more concentration than you might realize.  Although the brain is often able to switch quickly between tasks, it is hard to fully concentrate on two things at once.  This is especially true for a driver who is observing road signs, traffic lights, other cars, their own speedometer; listening to passengers, music, car horns, and other road noises; and moving the steering wheel, gearshift, gas pedal, and/or brake pedal, all at the same time.  Add in a distraction like talking on the phone or eating lunch on-the-go, and suddenly your ability to focus on the task of driving becomes much harder.

Some drivers learn this lesson the hard way after having an accident due to distracted driving.  High-risk car insurance companies can help put drivers back on track by providing good coverage and proof of insurance.

How to Avoid Distracted Driving

It’s important to make a conscious choice to avoid driving distracted.  Start by…

  • silencing or turning off your phone while in the car;
  • looking up directions before leaving for your destination;
  • setting a good example for others in the car by never using your phone to text or talk while driving;
  • never eating and drinking in the car;
  • pulling over to answer the phone or set your GPS;
  • and understanding the distracted driving laws in your state.

Want more information about driving distracted? Visit the NSC’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month page and for resources and statistics to help prevent distracted driving. 

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