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Distracted driving still a threat: Learn about common distractions

Think about the last time you drove your car. As you drove down the road, how many times did you look at your phone, adjust the radio and find yourself looking off into the distance because you were thinking about something other than where you were travelling. These minor lapses can lead to major problems for you and everyone else on the road.

Do you know the dangers of distracted driving? This risky behavior behind the wheel continues to cause serious and fatal crashes in Colorado and throughout the country. The NHTSA reports that over 3,331 people were killed and an additional 387,000 people were injured in car accidents caused by distracted driving.

Distracted driving is "any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most drivers may not be aware of the different ways they are becoming distracted and just how dangerous those distractions can be when you are traveling at high speeds.

Understanding how you become distracted behind the wheel

Distractions are so dangerous because they force you to try to complete two or more things at the same time. Distractions come in three different types: cognitive, visual and manual.

  • Cognitive distractions happen when your brain is thinking about something other than driving. 
  • Visual distractions happen when you turn your eyes away from the road.
  • Manual distractions happen when you move your hands away from the wheel and are unable to safely operate the vehicle.

It is fairly easy to understand why these types of distractions are dangerous, especially when they are combined. Drivers need to be aware of what they are doing or attempting to do while driving because they are not only putting themselves at risk for being injured but others on the road, too.

Now that you know the different types of distractions, let's talk about the common behaviors that cause driver's to become distracted. Common distractions include:

  • Talking, texting or reading an email on your phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Adjusting temperature controls
  • Talking to passengers
  • Attending to children

All of these behaviors are dangerous and increase the chance of getting into an accident. Accidents can involve just your vehicle - hitting an object such as a tree or light pole - or they can involve hitting other vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists on or near the road.

It doesn't matter if you just started driving or have been driving for decades. A few seconds looking away from the road can lead to devastating consequences. It is time to put down your cellphone and be aware of the different ways you may become distracted while driving. Do it to keep yourself and everyone else safe.

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