If you don’t touch your phone while driving, you might think that you don’t ever drive while distracted. However, a large number of behaviors can actually constitute distracted driving.
Although cellphone distraction is one of the most obviously dangerous kinds, there are other, less obvious forms of distraction that can cause just as much risk on the road. If you recognize your own driving habits in the list below, it might be time to make some changes to your behavior during your daily commute.
Remembering these more common forms of distraction can also help you identify risky drivers on the road and make it easier to avoid a crash.
Eating or drinking at the wheel isn’t safe
When you pick up a few French fries or grab your coffee from the center console, you have to take your hand off the wheel. Driving with one hand may allow you enough control in standard conditions, but it can drastically increase your response time if something unexpected happens. Some people might even take both hands off the wheel, especially if they want to apply condiments to a food product.
Intense conversations and sing-alongs are a risk on the road
Mental or internal distraction can be just as dangerous as taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. Having an intense conversation with someone on the phone or in your vehicle will be a source of mental distraction.
There’s nothing wrong with listening to music or lightly discussing things with your passengers, but you should avoid intense or emotional conversations until you reach your destination.
Built-in screens are just as dangerous as handheld ones
A surprising number of people seem to think that the screens vehicle manufacturers put in their vehicles or the GPS systems they attach to their dashboards are somehow safer than their phones. The truth is that focusing on any screen is going to result in manual, cognitive and visual distraction.
Whether you need to adjust your GPS or check a message on your phone, the best practice is always to leave the flow of traffic and put a vehicle in park until you have finished making those screen adjustments. Alternatively, having a passenger do them for you is usually a safe choice.
Trying to avoid distraction at the wheel can help keep you safe, but it’s important that you also know your rights in case someone else causes a crash.