If you ask people what a driving distraction looks like, they’re quick to name specific examples. They may mention something like texting and driving, for instance, one of the most common issues. They may mention parents getting distracted by having children in the car. They’ll probably bring up things like gawking at other car accidents and causing more accidents as a result.
These are all fine answers, and they show you just how dangerous distracted driving can be. And yes, even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that texting and driving is the most common issue that drivers face. That goes for teens and adult drivers alike.
However, the NHTSA also says that it goes far beyond that. According to them, any “non-driving activity” counts as a driving distraction. Anything at all.
Common “safe” activities
A driving activity, simply put, is something that is critical to the operation of the car. That means holding the wheel, pressing the gas, pressing the brakes, and watching traffic around you through the windows and mirrors. That’s it. Any time you drive, you should try to do no more than that. Remember, a car is a complex and dangerous machine. Do not get complacent. Give it your full attention.
Here are a few activities that count as distractions, but which people often think are safe:
- Turning on the AC
- Turning on the heat
- Adjusting the mirrors
- Programing the GPS
- Adjusting the interior lights
- Changing the radio station
- Picking a new music playlist on a phone
- Reading a map or looking at directions
- Talking to their passengers
- Talking to their kids
- Attending to their pets
- Taking off their shoes
- Eating a hamburger or some other type of food
- Drinking coffee, water or another non-alcoholic drink
They’ll do these things constantly, assuming that it’s fine. If the food wasn’t safe, they tell themselves, why can they get it at a drive-thru? If the coffee wasn’t safe, why is it a staple of commuting workers everywhere?
The truth, though, is that all of these things — and many more — are still distractions. They still do cause accidents. They keep you from doing the select group of activities listed above that count as pure driving actions. They take your mind off of the road.
Did you get injured?
If you understand the risks and the scope of distracted driving, that’s a step in the right direction. You can avoid these common issues that many people encounter. A lot of times, they don’t even realize how dangerous it is.
However, the reality is that others will always get distracted behind the wheel. If you get injured in a crash that one of them causes, you still need to know what legal steps to take in Ohio.