Even experienced drivers find themselves seeking distractions and ways to multitask while behind the wheel. Whether it is passing the time on a phone call during a monotonous commute home from work or eating breakfast on the way to an early class, it is not uncommon to see other drivers on the road engaging in potentially distracting activities. Unfortunately, even a seemingly minor activity can pull a driver’s focus from the road and lead to serious collisions.
Whether it is the proliferation of drive-thru establishments at busy intersections or popular exits, or the abundance of cupholders in a vehicle’s cabin, drivers often simply assume that dining and driving is a safe activity. Unfortunately, even something as simple as taking a sip of coffee from a travel mug can represent a hazardous distraction.
- Manual distractions: Any activity that requires the use of one or both hands off the steering wheel can be dangerous. By drinking from a cup of coffee, the driver has lost the use of a hand in case a sudden turn becomes necessary.
- Visual distractions: When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, it is a visual distraction. Looking away from traffic for even an instant can mean that stopped vehicles, warning signals, busy intersections or crossing pedestrians all go unnoticed. When a driver looks away from the road to select a drink, investigate the cup to see how much is left or look to clean up a spill he or she is no longer watching the road.
- Cognitive distractions: While many people equate this with daydreaming, any activity that pulls a driver’s attention from the road is a cognitive distraction. Thinking about where to stop for a bite to eat or wondering about getting a refill on the way to work all force the driver to turn his or her attention away from safely navigating the vehicle through traffic.
No matter if it is a crowded city street, deserted county road or fast-moving highway, a distracted driver can cause devastating motor vehicle collisions. From missing stopped traffic to drifting into oncoming lanes, negligent drivers often fail to notice warning signs or dangers in the area. Depending on the severity of the collision, vehicle occupants can suffer catastrophic injuries such as brain damage, multiple fractures, amputation, burn injuries and spinal cord trauma. A severe collision could even result in fatality.