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 make 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 thunderstorm — the list of driving distractions goes on and on.
Smart drivers respond to their surroundings to create the safest possible driving experience. Take, for example, driving in stormy weather. Smart drivers turn down their radio (reduce cognitive distraction), adjust the 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.
Driving while texting is particularly dangerous since it involves all three types of distracted driving:
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. 11 percent of drivers aged 18-20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived admitted they were texting while driving.
Every time you get behind the wheel of a car, you need to assess your distraction level. If your mind is 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 minimize distractions.
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.
Avoid any situation where you're distracted on more than one level, and limit situations where you're distracted at all while driving.