Distracted Driving: Get Your Head Out of Your Apps!
Nowadays, there are a lot more things that can distract us than when our founder, Chester, was driving in the 1920’s. Cell phones, music, food, day dreaming, passengers, and the scenes outside our windows cause endless distraction. In 2017, over 40,000 people died on U.S. roads— thousands of which were related to distracted driving. According to End Distracted Driving, distracted driving comes in three major forms: manual, visual, and cognitive.
Manual distractions are those that physically take your hands off the wheel. Your eyes may still be on the road and your mind could be focused, but your hands are being occupied by something other than the wheel. When your hands are not on the wheel, you are unable to steer and control your truck, which presents a major risk to yourself and those you share the road with. Examples of manual distraction include, eating or drinking, adjusting the stereo, reaching for something on the ground or in the passenger’s seat, using apps on your smartphone or tablet, and texting.
Anything that takes your eyes away from the road is considered a visual distraction. You should never take your eyes off of the road for more than a glance. Keeping your eyes on the road is one of the best ways to be alert and aware of the traffic patterns around you. Examples of visual distraction include, looking at the scenery passing by, referencing GPS units for elongated periods of time, using apps on your smartphone or tablet, and texting.
A cognitive distraction is when your mind wanders from the task at hand and becomes focused on something else. Cognitive distractions can be hazardous because a lot of the time, we do not realize that we have focused our attention on something else. Our hands may be on wheel and our eyes glued to the road, but this doesn’t mean that we aren’t distracted. Cognitive distractions could be as simple as letting our minds wander for too long. Thinking about what we want to eat for lunch may be important, but we should not let our minds linger. Other examples include, daydreaming, using apps on your smartphone or tablet, and texting.
Hands Free Driving
You’ll notice that all three distraction types can be connected to texting or being on your phone. Using a handheld device occupies your mind, hands, and eyes, creating a huge risk for an accident or near-accident.
Many of us may think that quickly sending one text message won’t do any damage, but sending or receiving a text message takes your eyes off of the road for roughly five seconds, which is enough time to cover the length of a football field while driving at 55 mph. That’s a long distance to drive when your mind, hands, and eyes are engaged with your phone and not the road.
Not only does using a cell phone while driving create a serious safety risk, there are severe fines and penalties associated with handheld cell phone use. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a handheld device while driving.
There is an endless source of things that can distract you while you are driving, but make a goal to always have your hands, eyes, and mind focused on driving and to never use a handheld cell phone.