Distracted driving is one of the biggest problems plaguing our roadways in the modern era. And even though texting and talking on a cellphone behind the wheel get a wide array of attention from the media, they’re far from the only distractions that can detract from safe driving. Yes, 59% of people admit to talking on a phone and 37% admit to texting, according to a HealthDay and Harris Interactive poll, but that same poll also showed that still others spend time putting on makeup or messing with the GPS while driving. A new article delves into some other overlooked types of distracted driving, and some of them might surprise you.
For instance, having to go to the bathroom can actually impair your focus, forcing you to concentrate on your internal body functions rather than your external driving environment. The Rhode Island-based Lifespan conducted the study which deduced that nugget, and the research also suggested that this distraction might even rival exhaustion or driving while under the influence of alcohol. That’s not to mention a widely held belief that thirst and hunger could also impair your mental acuity behind the wheel.
However, that’s not to say that you should quench your thirst or sate your hunger while driving, despite the fact that a reported 86% of people do just that. When you engage in these activities, your mind and at least one hand are drawn away from the wheel. Plus, should you spill food or burn yourself on something like a cup of coffee, the attendant threat to driving ability is quite severe.
Another hazard presents itself in the form of an unrestrained animal riding in a vehicle. The risk is especially apparent when the animal wanders around the cabin or even drops down on the lap of the driver. This is patently unsafe behavior and needs to be stopped. Even reaching over to pet a dog could remove your focus from the road. Keeping an animal unrestrained endangers both them and you. Instead, use an approved restraint device that minimizes distraction and protects the pet from an airbag should a crash take place. Such an item also keeps your focus on the road where it should be.
Finally, there is also a chance that other crashes can prove distracting and thus beget more crashes. It’s human nature to want to cast your gaze toward the site of a collision to see what’s going on. However, when you’re looking at a crash site, you’re not looking at the road. This could prove disastrous when the person in front of you slows down to do the exact same thing but you don’t see them. As much as you want to see what’s happening, keep your eyes forward and understand that other drivers will be distracted as well. Keep your wits about you at all times.