Distracted Driving Means More Than Cell Phones

It’s another long weekend for Canada and the U.S., one that often sees lots of travel and traffic. School begins again, and many students use this weekend to move to new campuses. It’s also the last long weekend of the summer meaning it’s a popular time for road trips.

As a driver, often the excitement and social aspect of travelling can be problematic. As much as cell phones are a leading cause of accidents, driving distractions are also caused by much more than just phones.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S. showed that 20 percent of all crashes resulting in injury were caused by distracted drivers. Distracted driving is anything that visually, manually, or cognitively takes the driver’s attention away from the road.

Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, discusses the theory of being “cognitively busy” which applies to distraction and driving. Essentially, our brain has a limited amount of brain power that is able to be used on one or more tasks. As the number of tasks we attempt to perform increases, the amount of brain power delegated to each task diminishes. The more effort that is required for one of the tasks, the less effort we are able to apply to the others.

Driving is one task that requires a considerable amount of attention and effort so, when a driver attempts to multi-task, their ability to act, react, and adapt to hazards on the road is diminished.

To avoid causing unnecessary accidents, CAA has these recommendations for safe driving and keeping distractions to a minimum:

  • Don’t use your cell phone – it’s dangerous and now illegal in most states and provinces;
  • Pre-program your radio, iPod, or CD player before starting the car;
  • Set GPS coordinates before leaving;
  • Get ready before getting in the car – don’t do your hair or makeup while driving;
  • Don’t eat or drink in the car;
  • Don’t read or write when driving; and
  • Avoid arguments or deep conversations with passengers or children.

Safety should always be your first priority when driving so it is important to try to remove as many distractions as possible before heading out on the road.

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James Richards
James Richards is a born and raised Vancouverite who studied History, Political Science and Law at University of British Columbia. His over 20 years of legal practice and a busy and active family gives him his purpose, focus and some good writing material. When not in work–mode, he enjoys any excuse to be out and about our amazing city.