No matter their age, experience level or the safety features of the car, almost every driver believes they have the skill necessary to multitask while behind the wheel. These multitasking activities can run the full range from having a snack on the way home from work to personal grooming before an early class. Unfortunately, even a minor task can be a dangerous distraction on the road.
Even with the numerous public information campaigns, devastating news reports and portrayal in popular entertainment, drivers continue to succumb to the temptation of completing non-driving tasks while behind the wheel. Many individuals believe that quick glances away from the road to select a snack from the center console, read a text notification or scroll through a music menu to find just the right song pose no danger. Unfortunately, looking away from the road for only five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Distractions come in many forms, such as:
- Visual distractions: When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, this is considered a visual distraction. Looking at a cell phone, reading an email or manipulating a navigation menu all require a driver to look away from the road and to the object in question.
- Manual distractions: A driver who takes his or her hands off the steering wheel has now lost the ability to react quickly to changing road conditions. Holding a sandwich while eating and driving is a common example of a manual distraction.
- Cognitive distractions: If a driver’s attention is not fully engaged in the primary task, he or she could be said to experience a cognitive distraction. Daydreaming is a common example of a cognitive distraction.
Many activities, such as texting, include elements of more than one distraction category. These activities can be even more dangerous as they require a greater level of attention to complete. Distracted driving accidents can result in severe injuries. Vehicle occupants can suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, crush injuries, amputation and paralysis.