Distracted Driving

One of the biggest problems for the students of Kearney High School right now is being safe on the roads, and one of the most influential factors of road safety is paying attention to what is happening.  This is not a hard concept to grasp, so why do people struggle so much with it? In a fast paced world people are so used to multi-tasking that they feel as though they can accomplish anything and everything, all at once. Thus the three types of distracted driving come into play.  Visual, manual, and cognitive distraction all play a role in the dangers of the road.

The problem with visual distractions is that eyes are needed to monitor the road. Seems like pretty basic common sense, but it is easier than one might think to take eyes off the road for even a split second and cause a wreck. This is why using cellphones while behind the wheel is such a danger. According to Edgarsynder.com, “at any given time throughout the day, approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile.” Cell phone use is never okay when driving, whether it be texting, changing the music, or even looking up directions. All of these actions cause eyes to stray from the road and to think about something completely separate from the task at hand. If there is a wandering mind, there is another form of distraction, cognitive.

Cognitive distraction is the distraction of the mind, such as thinking about what to eat for lunch, or planning for the weekend. When driving is seen as a means to an end it becomes easier to allow oneself to be cognitively distracted. Once most people get comfortable driving, they get a little bit too comfortable and are able to essentially go on auto-pilot, completely zoning out to drive their daily commutes.  The concern with this is that then the drivers are not paying attention to essential road concerns that change in an instant, such as a pedestrian crossing a street, or another driver neglecting to follow the rules of the road.

While a lot of people get into trouble just thinking about food behind the wheel, some take another step in the wrong direction by actually eating while driving. Decidetodrive.org states that “a driver who is drinking or eating is 3.6 times more likely to be in an automobile crash than attentive drivers who are not eating or drinking while driving.” Eating and drinking while driving is an example of manual distraction. This distraction is when one takes hands off the wheel while your car is in motion. This is a danger because they could begin to drift and not realize that they are not in the right lane until it is too late, or an obstacle could suddenly occur where it would be necessary to swerve, but without hands on the wheel one could find themselves running into that obstacle.  It is important to remember that any type of distracted driving is bad driving. Whether it’s texting, changing music, or even changing clothes, if a mind wanders from the task at hand a commute can turn into a crash in an instant. Don’t turn into another statistic of distracted teen driving, pay attention!