Distracted driving is one of the most pressing safety concerns on modern roads. Distraction at the wheel causes thousands of deaths every year and many other crashes that hurt people and damage property.
Although many people use the term distracted driving to refer specifically to the use of electronic devices at the wheel, many other behaviors actually constitute distracted driving as well. Even if you never pick up your phone while on the road, you may engage in one of the other common driving distractions without realizing the risk. You might also cross paths with other distracted drivers.
What technically constitutes distracted driving?
More behaviors than you might realize fall under the umbrella of distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), driving distracted means taking your hands off the wheel, looking away from the road while driving or mentally focusing on something other than control of the vehicle.
Eating or having a cup of coffee is a form of distracted driving. Singing along to the radio or placing a hands-free call to a loved one could also be a distraction. Even daydreaming or trying to plan out your day at work could mentally distract you to the point that you don’t respond quickly enough to changing traffic conditions.
How prevalent is distraction?
Unfortunately, because distraction encompasses so many behaviors, many of which you cannot objectively measure, it is impossible to know the true prevalence of distracted driving. Any figures gathered on the issue will be too low because people may not readily admit to engaging in dangerous behaviors at the wheel.
Still, the CDC estimates that as many as nine fatal car wrecks every day involve some form of distraction. You can keep yourself safer by recognizing that distraction is about more than just phone use and avoiding distractions when you drive. Carefully watching other drivers could help you identify someone who is unsafe at the wheel before they cause a crash.
No matter how careful you are, there will always be risks caused by other people’s behavior that you cannot control. Knowing your rights can help you get compensation when a distracted driver causes a car crash that ruins your vehicle or causes a member of your family a noteworthy injury.