7 Worst Distractions While Driving

Keeping hands at ten & two, constantly scanning the horizon and mirrors, and keeping a safe following distance are all trademarks of the safe driver. Eating a cheeseburger, texting a boyfriend, and blasting Lady Gaga are all trademarks of everyone else.

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While safety may be first in everyone’s minds, it’s typically last on everyone’s to-do list, which is why the following distractions get people in trouble.

1. Cell Phone Texting

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Perhaps the worst offender, texting while driving caused almost 1,000 fatal accidents in 2009 alone. Ironically, making the act illegal has seemingly made matters worse. While it would seem that heavy fines and tickets would curb the instances of texting while driving, the reality is that drivers are just going to greater lengths to hide the act.

This means that more eyes are on laps than roads, and therefore seem to be causing just as many accidents as before. While fully integrated voice activated technology is beginning to arrive on the scene, it is still a few years away from solving this problem, meaning that texting will remain as one of the most dangerous distractions on the road.

2. Cell Phone Talking

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Ironically, even with the invention of the Bluetooth headset, talking on a cell phone is still a dangerous activity for drivers. What few people realize is that the distraction of talking while driving has little to do with having one hand on a phone.

The distraction lies in the mental ability it takes to have a fully engaged conversation while successfully executing a task that requires all five senses. Once any sort of heated, excited, or insert-your-own-emotion-here conversation kicks up, driving becomes a much more dangerous task.

3. Talking to Passengers

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In 2009, there were roughly 31,000 fatal accidents resulting in 34,000 deaths, meaning that at least some accidents claimed more than one life. In many instances, passengers make for the worst distractions in fatal accidents.

Just as talking on a phone can be distracting, talking to a passenger can be even worse. Looking in the mirrors, goofing around, and/or arguing with those in a car can completely take a driver’s mind and eyes off the road.

Even a temporary lapse in judgment can be the difference between becoming a statistic and avoiding a fatal accident, which is why it is best to decline driving the “party car.”

4. Eating and Drinking

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An astounding 25% of Americans eat fast food on a daily basis. Because the purpose of fast food is to be “fast,” and because of the greatest invention of the 20th century (the drive-thru) allows people to jam meals on their way to work, chances are, SOMEBODY is eating in their car.

Any activity that requires the use of your knee as the primary steering instrument is bad news. Because of the fact that drivers literally have their hands tied, response time and ability is severely hampered, causing the likelihood of an accident to skyrocket.

For those who can, eating slightly earlier or later is a great idea, as nobody wants their last meal to be splattered all over their windshield.

5. Using a Navigation System

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Ironically, one of the best advancements in navigation history is also one of the worst distractions. The GPS, or “electronic map” as it is called by grandpa, provides drivers with a typically difficult-to-use, hard-to-see, overall frustrating way of making their way across town.

Because drivers often rely on navigation systems to get to where they’re going, programming and following this device becomes an intense distraction. Since few drivers ever think to pull over in order to recalculate directions, these happy helpers could sometimes cause an accident.

6. Getting Pretty

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It takes a lot of time to look good in the morning, which is why many people need to finish the job on their way to work. Unfortunately, grooming is one of the leading causes of distraction-related accidents on the road each year.

Because the rear-view mirror was meant for glancing and not staring intently, drivers applying make-up or fixing their hair can easily become oblivious to what is on the road in front of them, greatly increasing the chances of rear end accidents. Although looking good is important, looking at the road can be life saving.

7. Being a DJ

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Thanks to modern smartphones, most people carry their MP3s, email, and phones all in the same device. The problem with this is that while it isn’t illegal to change playlists, it is just as distracting as texting.

It doesn’t matter whether or not a person is texting, Googling, Angry Birding, or changing to the next song on their phones. Distraction is indiscriminate, and taking your eyes off the road for even a minute can be the difference between life and death.

Many cars offer syncing systems and steering wheel controls to help facilitate this process, but if your car isn’t one of them, it’s best to just wait until the next song comes on. Do yourself one better, and prepare a playlist before leaving home.

Conclusion:

Driving safely is a difficult task to begin with, but when added distractions arise, keeping a car under control is truly challenging. Considering 20% of all injury-causing crashes in 2009 had to do with some form of distracted driving, it’s best to keep your eyes, hands and mind on the road at all times.

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