You can’t serve two masters at the same time. When driving, it is very important to keep an eye on everything and to stay focused. Driving itself involves paying attention to multiple things at the same time, the cars in front of you and around you, your speed, the road conditions, where you are going, what time it is, and much more. Most people do not realize all of the things their brains are doing while they are driving.
Mental distractions occur when a motorist, while driving, attempts to do multiple other things at the same time. The fact is, regardless of how little time you spend on the distraction, 10 seconds choosing your playlist, 15 seconds checking your lip gloss, your brain takes a few moments to reestablish your mental focus after getting distracted. So, this means that mental distraction continues even after the distracting activity ends. Which means 15 seconds turns into 25 to 40 seconds, as an example. That’s 25 to 40 seconds of not paying attention to what the car in front of you is doing.
How Dangerous Is It?
To translate, let’s say you were traveling at 25 miles per hour. This means you would travel up to 980 feet, which is about 3 football fields, before fully recovering and paying full attention to the road and driving again. I don’t even want to think about what it would be at 50 or 60 miles per hour or more.
This also mens that even if you think that checking your text messages or hair while at a red light is okay, in actuality, it still is a distraction,and that the distraction carries over after the light turns green.
Research done by a Utah-based team has ranked common distracting activities like turning on the radio, navigating to a location, etc based upon the car make and model to compare the same distracting activity by the effort involved due to car design. They also ranked the specific activity for distraction complexity and risk; Listening to the radio is a Category 1, ending voice-activated texts are a Category 3, and solving a complex math or navigation problem is a Category 5.
The Utah-based team also rated the voice-activated systems, combined with cell phones in 10 cars. Developers should be aiming to make the systems no more distracting than listening to the radio. They are not there yet.
Here is how the ten car systems rated - and the ratings did not get better with use. In other words, even with practice, safety did not improve, and distraction did not decrease.
Common Activities Done While Driving
Below are common driving distractions:
1) Eating. It can’t be avoided that some of us are too busy and that it is only after hopping inside the car that you realize you are really hungry.. Funny as it sounds, you’ll not only be using your hands to maneuver the wheel, but you’ll also be using them to to eat and drink. What if your hot coffee spills in your lap? Or if the catsup squirts all over? Better to wait and park before you eat.
2) Listening to music is a natural relaxer for some people especially after a long stressful day, but music still can be a distraction. You might end up focusing on words or beat or memories about a song might cause your mind to wander. Factors such as wearing headphones and high volumes can likely distract you even more, making you unable to hear car horns or emergency noises.
3) Anger. Don't ever drive when your emotions are ruling the day. It has been said that driving when you’re angry is like driving when you’re drunk. Your judgment is off and the worst thing is, you don’t even realize it until it is too late.
4) Passengers. And yes, the rules about new teen drivers not Driving with passengers is based upon logic. Having other occupants inside the car can increase your chances of getting distracted. Talking to them or looking at other people, taking your eyes off the road even for only a moment can be all that it takes for disastrous consequences.
5) Using the Mirror To Look At Yourself. If you have a habit of checking your face in the mirror or putting your makeup on while driving, you better quit it. Anything that can take your sight off of the road is distraction.
6) Drowsiness. If ever you feel sleepy while driving, pull over. Better be safe than sorry. If you have a companion, ask for a switch or you can find a safe place to park and nap before you resume driving.
7) Wandering Thoughts. Daydreaming or detaching your mind from reality can be useful especially when you’re trying to relax from a hectic day. But driving while daydreaming is another story.
Your life is in your own hands and in the hands of other motorists when you’re on the road. Remember that idiot in the restaurant? Well, now heison the road with you. Accidents can happen in just a blink of an eye leaving you wondering how it all happened so fast. Since you cannot control the other drivers and whatever is distracting them, it is really wise to stay focused yourself to stay safe.
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