Driver Distractions

Driver Distractions

When many people think of driver distractions, their mind automatically goes to cellphones and driving. It’s true, we are surrounded by ad campaigns that talk about the risk of texting while driving, or talking on the phone when we are behind the wheel of a car. But why? The answer simply boils down to inhibited reaction time. The National Safety Council says it the best in their 2012 paper “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-Free Cell Phones Is Risky Behavior,” “Multitasking is a myth. Human brains do not perform two tasks at the same time.” The paper goes onto suggest that our brain needs adequate time to “attention switch” from one task to another.

The fact of the matter is that cellphone use while driving is not the only multitasking distraction that drivers commit when behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is just the one that is most talked about in the media because cell phone use is a relatively new technology. Activities that can distract your attention include: texting, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, CD player or climate controls; eating, drinking or smoking; reading maps or other literature; picking up something that fell; reading billboards and other road advertisements; watching other people and vehicles including aggressive drivers; talking and/or texting on a cell phone or CB radio; using telematics devices (such as navigation systems, pagers, etc.); daydreaming or being occupied with other mental distractions.

If you want more interesting facts about distracted driving, we recommend trying an online defensive driving course at The driver improvement course is approved for all California courts (they also operate courses in other states too)and is entirely free to try. It is chalk-full of useful, informative driving statistics about distracted driving and other driving related topics. Be safe out there!


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