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Drivers: Don't let distractions cause a crash

Cellphones and other distractions in vehicles can quickly lead to accidents. Did you know that around 3,477 traffic deaths were caused by distracted driving in 2015 alone? Imagine what paying attention could do to reduce the number of deaths each year.

There are three types of distractions that can affect drivers. They include:

  • Manual tasks
  • Visual tasks
  • Cognitive tasks

Each one of these may occur on its own or simultaneously with one or both of the others. As an example, a manual task might be reaching for the radio. A visual task would be looking over to check the station number. A cognitive task would be listening to the music to see if it's the right song.

While these might seem like innocuous actions, the reality is that taking your mind off the road for even a second is enough time for a crash to take place. As an example of some of the things that might distract you on the road, consider these common behaviors:

  • Reading
  • Using a GPS system
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Taking calls or making calls on a cellphone
  • Looking at a crash outside the vehicle (or another outside visual distraction)
  • Texting

Each of these common behaviors can involve multiple distractions at once, making a driver completely unaware of where their vehicle is traveling and what's happening in front of them. In just seconds, it's possible to get involved in a rear-end collision or to speed through a stop sign.

It's normal for drivers to get distracted, and when they do, it's usually by more than one serious distraction. For example, if you text, you're being distracted in three ways. You're manually entering text. You're visually looking at the phone. You're also cognitively distracted while reading what you've been sent or are sending.

What can you do to avoid distractions behind the wheel?

Cellphones are one of the most significant causes of distractions behind the wheel. If you have a phone, the best thing you can do is to turn it on "silent" and to place it away from yourself. Don't look at it unless you've pulled over and parked or reached your destination. That way, you're more focused on the road ahead of you and more likely to get where you're going without a crash to instantly turn your life upside down.

Distractions are a major cause of injuries and deaths. Remember, you can stay focused on the road and prevent these incidents.

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