Dubbed as the “new drunk driving” by The Economist, distracted driving has quickly become an epidemic in the United States. According to Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood, 3,331 people were killed in 2011 and 387,000 more were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
Found below are six of the top distracted driving habits in the country:
Eating or Drinking. What harm can a bite on your take-out burger do to you? Apparently, a lot when you’re driving and when you take your eyes off the road. Beverages and food may spill on your lap, and worse enough, stain your office attire. You may also have to use one hand to steer the wheel and move the shifter—a terrible decision when you’re on the road.
Grooming yourself while driving. The vanity mirror was clearly a bad idea. Although grooming yourself while driving per se is not listed as a driving distraction, you can’t deny the fact that it is a driving distraction. Two to three percent of the population reported a decline in performance when they try to do two things or more at once, according to Utah researchers Jason Watson and David Strayer.
Tending to passengers. Remember that Modern Family episode where Haley gashed her mom’s SUV when she and her sister Alex were talking? Yes, a split-second glance at your passenger can do that. Passengers make it to the list of frequent distractions to most drivers according to a study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The research also said that children are four times as distracting as adult passengers, while babies are eight times more distracting.
Driving while sleepy or fatigued. Nodding off while driving is one of the most common causes of road accidents. According to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 41% of drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association reveals that drowsy driving results to 100,000 crashes yearly, accounting for 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
Texting. Some people can’t bear to be away from their mobile device as if their lives depended on it. In fact, traffic video footages have shown people texting and driving without a care in the world. According to CDC data, 31 % of US drivers from the ages of 18 to 64 said they had read or sent a text while behind the wheel within 30 days of participating in the survey. In Europe 15% of drivers in Spain text and drive. In Portugal 31% of drivers text and drive.
Texting draws a driver’s attention the longest, according to website, TextingandDrivingSafety.com. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging increases a driver’s risk for vehicular crashes than driving without being distracted.
Talking on your cellphone. Based on CDC data, 69 % of drivers in the US between the ages of 18 and 64 said they talked on their mobile phone within 30 days of being surveyed by the CDC. In the United Kingdom, distracted drivers make up 21% of drivers, and 59% in Portugal. (Learn more about the link between cellphone use and driving in an article we published yesterday.)
Never overestimate your driving skills and performance. Remember that you’re only human and you could make mistakes too, no matter how sure you are of yourself on the road. A little precaution goes a long way. So for the safety of everyone, pull over if you have something urgent to attend to.