Distracted driving can do real harm. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines distracted driving as engaging in any activity that is not driving. Distracted driving means that a California driver is dividing his or her attention to something else while the attention of that person belongs on operating the vehicle. Engaging in non-driving activities while on the road is dangerous and can boost the chances of getting into a serious, even deadly automobile wreck.
Distracted driving is not always the same. A person can divert attention from driving in many different ways. Some drivers may not even be aware that they are distracted. As defined by NIOSH, distracted driving falls into one of three categories.
First, a driver should maintain eyes on the road, but not all drivers do so. Smart phones are a potent source of visual distraction, with drivers diverting their attention to talk on the phone, read or text. Drivers can also be distracted by incidents that occur around them. A car wreck, for example, often draws the gaze of passing motorists. A driver who is not close to the accident site might crane his or her neck to gain a better view, but it can come at the expense of looking at the road ahead.
Another form of distraction occurs when drivers do not keep both hands on the wheel. Known as manual distraction, drivers may remove their hands from the wheel to engage in a variety of activities, such as using a smart phone, picking up items in the vehicle, or holding a coffee cup or sandwich. These activities keep a person from maintaining full control of a vehicle and may prevent a driver from turning to avoid a collision before it is too late.
A driver can be distracted even if that person keeps both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. If you do not have your mind on driving, you can still be distracted. Cognitive distraction occurs when you speak on a phone while driving, or if you converse with someone riding in the vehicle with you. Some cognitive distraction happens if you are too mentally preoccupied while you drive.
While it may seem like distracted driving does not take your eyes off the road for any significant period of time, even a little deviation from your driving can be dangerous. As pointed out by NHTSA, taking your eyes from the road for five seconds while going at 55 miles per hour is enough time to traverse a football field. Distracted driving can do a lot of damage, so anyone who gets behind the wheel should keep their focus on safe driving.