Distraction Is The Biggest Worry For Maryland Drivers
What scares you most when you are driving your car? Is it driving during a thunderstorm? Is it a large 18-wheeler bearing down on you in traffic?
A recent survey says that the biggest concern of Maryland drivers is a quieter, but no less deadly, hazard – distraction. When asked their biggest fears on the road, responders said that distraction was a bigger threat than drunk driving and aggressive driving.
There is a good reason that so many drivers are afraid of the threat posed by distracted driving. Distraction behind the wheel is proving to be one of the biggest hazards to road safety.
What Exactly is Distraction?
Simply put, distraction is any activity that takes away a driver’s attention while they are operating their vehicle. One of the biggest causes of distraction is the use of mobile devices. Texting, emailing and using social media while driving distracts a driver to the point that they become a liability on the road.
Distraction is not just limited to the use of mobile devices. Many other activities can also lead to the distraction of a driver. Talking to other passengers in the vehicle, changing the car stereo, using a GPS, eating and even talking using hands-free technology can divert a driver’s attention long enough to cause a serious accident. Basically, distraction is any activity that takes the driver’s attention off of the road.
How Big is the Problem of Distraction?
Over 40 percent of all road deaths involve some level of distraction. That’s a huge number, so it makes sense that so many people in Maryland are afraid of distracted drivers. However, even with the increased awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, so many drivers admit that they still check their phones behind the wheel.
A study by AAA found that teenagers are more prone to distraction while driving than other types of drivers. In fact, they found that up to 60 percent of teenager crashes involved distraction. The increase in teen accidents during the summer months is so great that it has caused AAA to name the summer season the “100 deadliest days”.
Research also shows that most people can’t focus on more than one activity at a time and still be effective at the task. While many believe that they are capable of multitasking, studies indicate that our brains are at their best when they are devoting their focus to one single activity. In other words, drivers aren’t able to do other things behind the wheel and still devote the appropriate level of attention to driving.
How Can We Stop Distraction?
It is hard for police officers to tell which drivers are actually distracted while driving, so catching offenders and punishing people for distracted driving is a challenge. The fact is that we all have to do our best to get rid of distraction in our own lives, and teach our children to do the same. Here are a few tips to stop distraction while driving:
- Put the phone out of reach while driving.
- Turn down the stereo in your car. Excessive noise can divert your attention from the task of driving.
- Don’t allow extra passengers. This is especially true for teens who are more inexperienced drivers and might be more prone to losing focus with a car full of riders.
- Never eat or drink while driving.
- Use your mirrors strictly for driving purposes, not for grooming or looking at other passengers.
Knowing that there are so many distracted drivers on our roads is a scary thing for Maryland motorists, but by educating our young people about the dangers of distraction and taking the proper safety steps, we might be able to make our roads at least a little bit safer for all of us.