Most drivers know how dangerous it is to use smartphones behind the wheel. Not only is it common sense that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous, it’s also a message hammered home by public service announcements.
It’s true that distracted driving has become an even bigger threat on our roads since the use of smartphones has become widespread, but that’s not the whole story. The truth is that distraction has been a threat to motorists since the invention of the automobile.
To make our roads as safe as possible, drivers need to know that many types of distracted driving have nothing to do with smartphones, and things you thought were perfectly safe are potentially even more distracting than talking or texting while driving. Let’s dive into a few of the most common examples.
7 Non-Cell Phone-Related Distractions Drivers Should Avoid
Before we look at the list, know that drivers can be distracted in three primary ways: visually, cognitively, and physically. While smartphones can check all three boxes, the following distractions can take any driver’s mind, hands, or eyes off the task of driving.
Taking on too many passengers
Research from AAA found that the number one cause of distraction among teen drivers isn’t cell phone use; it’s actually interacting with passengers. The more passengers you have in your vehicle, the greater the risk that you will be distracted by conversation or activities within your own vehicle.
For this reason, level two license holders in Michigan (usually teenagers) are only allowed one passenger under the age of 21, unless those passengers are family members or while they are supervised by a guardian over the age of 21.
Eating, drinking, or smoking while driving
Most drivers have, at some point in their lives, consumed food or beverages while driving. Though some drivers might have convinced themselves they don’t put others at risk when they eat, drink, or smoke behind the wheel, a study from Lytx found that eating and drinking while driving results in a 3.6 times greater chance of crashing.
When a driver turns their head to look at something outside their vehicle, like the aftermath of a crash, they are taking their eyes and their minds off the task of driving. And taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds can double your chances of crashing.
Looking at oneself in the mirror
Drivers sometimes look at themselves in their rearview mirror, often for grooming purposes. In some instances, that means their eyes, hands, and minds are distracted. One study found that nearly 6% of drivers who are identified as distracted lose their focus because they were grooming themselves behind the wheel.
Using navigational devices
Though some drivers use smartphones to double as their navigation devices, built-in navigation devices are also very common in modern vehicles. Unfortunately, these devices can also be distracting, especially when a driver attempts to enter their destination or alter their routes while driving instead of doing so before they depart.
Listening to overly loud music
Whether listening to excessively loud music through their vehicle’s stereo or through headphones (a big no-no for any driver), drivers aren’t just mentally distracted by loud noises; they might also be unable to hear important sounds alerting them to danger, such as other drivers’ car horns.
Modern vehicles are also sometimes equipped with devices that display video to entertain passengers. In some instances, devices brought into the vehicle, like iPads or other tablets, can also double as infotainment devices. It’s important for anyone using these devices to keep the noise levels low and preferably use headphones to causes as little distraction to the driver as possible.
If You’re Injured by a Distracted Driver, You Have Legal Options
At Fieger Law, we have years of experience holding negligent drivers accountable for the costs of the injuries they cause our clients. We know what it takes to prove negligence on the part of the other driver, whether that recklessness included impairment, fatigue, or distraction.