Distracted Driving - a Deadly Mix Behind the Wheel

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Distracted driving is an activity where the driver takes his eyes off the road and diverts his or her attention. Distracted driving includes texting, using a cell phone, eating or drinking, reading, talking to passengers, looking a the GPS, etc. There are 3 types of distraction while driving Visual, Manual, and Cognitive distraction. We need to make distracted driving laws much tougher and more strict and even possibly make a device that disables cellular devices while driving. When a person is distracted the person is lost, in all the five senses, the driver basically has no control of the vehicle.

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The 3 types of distraction are manual distraction means you take one or both of your hands off the wheel, for example, to grab a drink from the cup holder or help your kids fasten their seatbelts. The visual distraction implies taking your eyes off the road to look at an accident site or check your phone display to see who is calling. Finally, cognitive distraction means taking your mind off driving. This happens when you daydream about something or talk to someone using a hands-free device. Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,450 lives in 2016 alone. Most of all driver distraction is reported to be responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes. You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing. Texting while driving is the most that have been reported that over 78% of all distracted drivers are distracted because they have been texting while driving. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, texting while driving has the biggest potential for driving while distracted. It is mainly due to manual distraction, but also includes visual distraction and cognitive distraction.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently trying to fight nationally against distracted driving by trying to educating Americans about how dangerous distracted driving can be and it is also partnering with the states and local police enforcement to help enforce laws against distracted driving to help keep us safe. Many drivers think that after they have been driving for a while they get comfortable and they can forget about just how dangerous it can be because you’re complacent to the risks of driving. As the result, the driver is more likely to think that he or she can send a quick text or daydream without putting themselves in danger. The GHSA recommended that states ban hand-held cell phone use for all drivers. While texting and handheld bans are both critical, texting bans by themselves can be difficult to enforce. There have been many ban laws that have been put into action, for example, many states are enacting laws such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to help prevent it from occurring. However, the effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws on decreasing distracted driving-related crashes requires further study but almost none of them has stopped fully stopped distracted driving. Automakers are providing dashboards and heads-up displays to allow driving information to be available without the driver looking away from the road. Gesture- and voice-based interfaces simplify controlling the vehicle and its services. Mobile applications may disable communication, blank the screen or limit access to applications or programs when the device is in motion.

A similar approach is under investigation by telecom providers. New technology in vehicles is causing us to become more distracted behind the wheel than ever before. Fifty-three percent of drivers believe if manufacturers put ‘infotainment’ dashboards and hands-free technology in vehicles, they must be safe. And, with some state laws focusing on handheld bans, many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device. But in fact, these technologies distract our brains even long after you’ve used them. Another approach is through education. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the NHTSA conducted a number of series of initiatives and campaigns, such as ‘One Text or Call Could Wreck It All’, ‘Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks’ advertisement, and ‘Faces of Distracted Driving’. The ‘Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks’ commercials advocate safe driving habits via vivid scenarios, attempting to make the consequences of distraction more tangible. The ‘Faces of Distracted Driving’ is a DOT online video series that focuses on individuals who have been personally affected.

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