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The many forms of distracted driving

Posted at 9:03 AM, Jul 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 11:05:10-04

We all have heard about the dangers of texting and driving. And with good reason as it’s a major cause of accidents. According to the state of Utah 5,748 distracted driver crashes occurred in 2016 in the state, which resulted in 3,303 injured persons and 27 deaths. There is little arguing with the science behind any kind of distracted driving. Studies show that 97% of the population experience a noticeable decline in performance when they try to do two or more things at once. The difference between driving and other activities is that multi-tasking while driving leads to accidents, injuries, and deaths.

What are some other major distractions besides texting?

Unsurprisingly, the cell phone is a major player in ways outside of texting. Updating social media, browsing the internet, or playing games can be hugely distracting. These are big temptations, especially for younger drivers. Do you remember the “Pokémon Go” craze a couple of summers ago? A Purdue University study suggests that people playing the game while driving may have caused more than 25,000 injuries and over 200 deaths during the first 5 months of the game’s release.

In what ways can vehicles themselves be distractions?

Even simple things like programming a radio, using a GPS to find an address, or adjusting the climate control take a drivers focus off the road. Vehicles towing large loads like trailers or boats, or trucks with cargo in the bed can cause drivers to give more attention to their cargo instead of the road in front of them.

How about in-vehicle distractions outside of cell phones?

How many of us eat while driving? It’s a common thing and honestly a dangerous one. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that eating and driving increases the likelihood of crashes by 80 percent. So while many of us would never look at a cell phone while driving, the moment we pick up that burger or soft drink behind the wheel we are putting ourselves and others at risk.

Other major distractions?

People and pets can be a very dangerous distraction for drivers. A disturbing 8% of drivers admit to driving with pets on their lap according to a Nationwide Mutual Insurance survey. You can imagine the danger. Pets can be fidgety and loud, becoming easy distractions for drivers, especially if that pet is sitting on the driver’s lap.

There is evidence to suggest that being distracted by other people in the vehicle may contribute to more accidents than cell phones do. A federal study by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration shows that conversations with passengers cause 57% percent of distracted auto crashes. As drivers we have to make sure we are focusing on driving despite what our shotgun rider or kids in the back seat are doing.

So what’s the key to avoiding all these distractions?

It’s essential to put down the phone, keep your eyes on the road and be willing to safely pull over when the need arises. If you need to eat, adjust cargo, coordinate GPS, talk to disruptive passengers or do anything on a cell phone do the right thing, safely pull over and take care of the situation. Imagine if everyone committed to doing that! We would have much safer roadways.

You can find more info on distracted driving statistics here and here.

You can contact Craig Swapp & Associates at or call 800-404-9000