Distracted driving causes thousands of auto accidents every year, many of which lead to serious injury or death. Most people know distracted driving isn’t safe. Yet, once we get behind the wheel we face more distractions than ever, many of which are new within the last 20 years. These include:
1. Cell phones.
Technically, cell phones existed 20 years ago, but many people didn’t yet own one. These days, just about everyone has a cell phone, and they now come with a lot more distractions, such as texting, sending photos, listening to music, and other features that can take your attention off the road. Even when used hands-free for talking, cell phones still present a serious distraction.
2. Onboard GPS navigation systems.
Although convenient, these systems are visually driven, which requires drivers to take their attention off the road when finding directions to their location. Navigation systems with voice capabilities are less distracting, but still not completely risk-free.
3. More controls inside the car.
Turning the radio on and off, adjusting mirrors, putting a CD in the player – these kinds of activities have always represented a distraction for drivers. However, today’s cars now have a multitude of dials, knobs, controls and buttons, such as front and back climate control, rear-view cameras, and other high-tech features that take distracted driving to a new level.
4. Mobile devices.
In addition to cell phones, mobile devices like iPads and Android-based tablets offer a variety of new and hard-to-resist distractions. Answering emails, listening to books, playing games, looking for nearby restaurants or shops – these are just some of the mobile features that can make drivers less attentive on the road.
5. Speech-to-text systems.
Many drivers use speech-to-text to avoid manual texting while driving. However, research has found that even speaking into a device can distract drivers, especially if they’re composing a long message in their heads. Moreover, these systems can also allow drivers to perform other tasks, such as updating their Facebook pages, which requires even more concentration that should be devoted to the road.
There are a right time and place for all these technologies, but behind the wheel is not one of them. Do yourself, your passengers, and other drivers a favor by putting the technology away until you reach your destination.