Driving is a big responsibility. A responsibility to keep yourself, your passengers, and others of the general public safe by maintaining safe driving practices while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. There are numerous distractions that can and will occur on any given day. How you handle these things that pull at your attention while driving will determine how well you are keeping others and yourself safe on the road. Any activity that could sidetrack or deter a driver’s attention away from the number one, essential function of operating a vehicle safely is considered distracted driving. All distractions contribute to the endangering of the safety of the driver, the passengers, and any bystanders.

DWD or Driving While Distracted is dangerous. It is reported that nearly 80 percent of crashes in the United States happen due to a distracted driver. Distractions include texting, using a cellphone or smartphone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading – including maps, using a navigation system, watching a video, adjusting the radio, CD player, or mp3 player. Manual distractions – things that take your hands off the wheel; visual distractions – something that takes your eyes off the road; and cognitive – things that take your mind off of driving, are the three main types of distractions.

To help keep our streets safer minimizing distractions is a must.

  • Put the cellphone away. Cellphone use compromises driving skills. Even with the use of a hands-free device, the level of risk is not reduced, the driver is still distracted and less alert to the road ahead.
  • Put your makeup on and fix your hair before you leave or after you arrive at your destination, not while you are driving. If you are attempting to groom yourself while driving, your attention is not focused on the oncoming vehicles or the potential hazards of the road ahead.
  • Music surfing should be reigned in. You can listen to music and drive, but keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel will be safer for everyone. Use normal stops to your advantage, like stop signs or stop lights, to adjust your radio. You can also ask a passenger to adjust the music for you, whether it be in radio station selection, CDs, or MP3 players.
  • Eating while driving is a dangerous habit. Firstly, you have to take a hand off of the steering wheel (manual distraction), and then make sure that you are not spilling (visual and cognitive distraction), while trying to stay focused on driving. It may be a time saver, however it makes you a less attentive, more distracted, driver overall.

Distracted driving exposes you, your passengers, other drivers, and other passersby to unnecessary risks. Keep your attention directed at the road and consider taking a defensive driving course online to ensure that you are being a safe driver on the road.