Distracted DrivingDriver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Driving is a visual task and non-driving activities that draw the driver's eyes away from the roadway should always be avoided.
As of July 1, 2010, Michigan law prohibits texting while driving. For a first offense, motorists are fined $100. Subsequent offenses cost $200.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual - taking your eyes off the road
- Manual - taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive - taking your mind off of what you're doing
Distracting activities include:
- Using a cell phone and/or texting
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a PDA or navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the radio station, CD, or MP3 player.
Focus on the task at hand - driving:
- Get familiar with vehicle features and equipment before pulling out into traffic.
- Preset radio stations, MP3 devices, and climate control.
- Secure items that may move around when the car is in motion. Do not reach down or behind the seat to pick up items.
- Do not text, access the Internet, watch videos, play video games, search MP3 devices, or use any other distracting technology while driving.
- Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, and reading while driving.
- Pull safely off the road and out of traffic to deal with children.
- Do personal grooming at home-not in the vehicle.
- Review maps and driving directions before hitting the road.
- Monitor traffic conditions before engaging in activities that could divert attention away from driving.
- Ask a passenger to help with activities that may be distracting.
- If driving long distances, schedule regular stops, every 100 miles or two hours.
- Travel at times when you are normally awake and stay overnight rather than driving straight through.
- Avoid alcohol and medications that may make you drowsy.
For more information on distracted driving research and safety information, visit the following Web sites:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Safety Council
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute