Whether it is due to their portrayal in popular media or stories presented by news outlets, nearly everyone has a strong idea of what constitutes a driving distraction. From participating in a text conversation to reading a map while behind the wheel, most drivers can come to almost unanimous agreement about the hazards of certain activities. There are some activities, however, that are so commonplace, their danger almost goes unrecognized.
What are five distractions that drivers might not consider that dangerous?
- Snacking while behind the wheel: It is common for drivers to eat breakfast on the way to work or grab dinner on the way home from a long shift. In fact, busy intersections and popular exits are often crowded with numerous drive-thru options for just this purpose. Unfortunately, eating not only takes the eyes off the road but at least one hand off the steering wheel.
- Drinking while driving: Even more common than eating, drivers habitually have something to drink while behind the wheel. Whether this is a morning coffee or a bottle of water resting in a cupholder, drivers almost always have some type of liquid near them.
- Loud music: Whether it is the music drowning out environmental warnings such as horns or sirens, or the cognitive distraction of focusing on the song rather than the road, listening to loud music can unfortunately lead to serious collisions.
- Pets in the vehicle: Too often, drivers are distracted by their pets. Whether the pet is frightened and must be consoled, or the pet is excited and hops around the vehicle, the driver pulls his or her attention from the road to help.
- Small children in the vehicle: Whether the driver is handing out treats, breaking up an argument or simply listening to their stories, kids can become significant distractions in a vehicle.
Even if the activity seems minor, drivers must work to remain focused on the road. A distraction can mean any action that takes the eyes off the road, the hands off the steering wheel or the attention from the act of driving. Any of these three factors, or a combination of factors, can lead to devastating collisions with catastrophic results.