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Distracted Driving and the Dangers of Driving While Texting

Distracted driving comes in many forms, but every type of distraction has the same effect: It keeps drivers from staying safe on the roads.

Distracted driving is defined as any non-driving activity or event that has the potential to distract a driver. There are three types of distractions: cognitive, visual, and manual. At any given moment, environmental distractions can occur that makes driving more hazardous. Your coffee can spill, a child in the back seat can throw a tantrum, or the skies can suddenly let loose with a sudden thunderstorm — the list of possible driving distractions goes on and on.

Smart drivers react to their surroundings to create the safest possible driving experience. Take, for example, driving in stormy weather. Smart drivers will turn down their radio (reduce cognitive distraction), adjust their lights and wiper speed (reduce visual distraction) and keep both hands on the wheel (reduce manual distraction) to ensure they're better prepared.

Distracted driving is not just limited to technology use in the car. Eating and drinking while driving, grooming, changing the radio station, and even talking to other passengers are all activities that can result in distracted driving.

Don't text and drive

Driving while texting is particularly dangerous since it involves all three types of distracted driving:

  • Visually you have your eyes on your phone and off the road.
  • Manually you're handling the phone rather than keeping your hands on the wheel.
  • Cognitively you're focusing on both the task (texting) and the conversation rather than driving. Driving while texting renders you incapable of focusing on the task at hand.

Even experienced drivers who are used to dealing with one or two types of distraction at a time can't be expected to drive safely when they experience all three types of distraction.  For example, a bus driver who focuses on driving his route while also thinking about the safety and comfort of his passengers is at risk of distracted driving.

Assess your own driving situation and distraction levels

Every time you get behind the wheel of a car you should assess your distraction levels. If your mind is still focused on problems at work, you're already cognitively distracted. If you're driving in heavy rain, you're visually distracted. In a perfect world, you would always focus 100 percent on driving, but unruly kids, bad weather, and important phone calls— even the driver in the car next to you— can distract you from the road. Be smart about your driving and keep your distractions to a minimum.

Hands-free Bluetooth® enabled devices, like headsets and built-in car kits, can help you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, keeping you manually and visually focused. For a look at the many different types of new hands-free devices and technologies available, see Bluetooth Enabled Devices to Help You Drive Smarter and Safer.

There are many types of Bluetooth enabled devices to help you stay safe while driving, such as this hands-free calling device that clips on to your car's sun visor.

Drive smart, drive safe

Here are the key points to remember:

Avoid any situation where you're distracted on more than one level, and limit situations where you're distracted at all while driving.

  • If you use your phone while driving, use Bluetooth wireless technology to help make you a smarter driver.
  • Never manually text while you drive.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.
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