The Facts About Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a major contributor to car crashes, accounting for over 4,000 crashes daily in the United States. While it’s well known that cell phone usage can increase your chances of being involved in a crash, eating, tending to children, conversing with other passengers and gazing at objects outside the vehicle can be just as distracting.
Driving Requires a Concentrated Effort
Anything that diverts your attention away from the primary task of driving is a distraction. Distractions include:
- Visual — Takes your eyes off the road
- Cognitive — Takes your mind off the road
- Manual — Takes your hands off the wheel
Talk or Text Later
Research has shown that the distraction caused by a phone conversation is the same for hands-free or hand-held cell phones. Even more distracting is the act of text messaging. Now illegal in most states (including Minnesota and Iowa), texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds. At 55 mph, this translates into 120 yards without looking at the road.
Tips for Managing Distractions
- Recognize that driving requires your full attention.
- Use your cell phone only if absolutely necessary.
- If you must use your phone, choose a safe time and place, keeping the conversation short.
- Ask a passenger to place a call for you and, if possible, speak in your place.
- Do not compose, send or read text messages while driving. In Minnesota and Iowa, texting while driving is illegal.
- Ask passengers to help with directions or adjust dashboard controls.
- Secure loose items in the vehicle so they don’t become projectiles or distractions in a sudden stop or crash.
- Avoid intense, complicated or emotional conversations when driving.
- Pull over to care for children.
- Stop to eat or drink, rather than trying to eat or drink while driving.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Program your GPS prior to starting your trip.
- Allow plenty of time for your trip.
For more information on how AAA helps you to stay safe click here.