The dangers of distracted driving

Most in Albuquerque are likely already aware of the dangers associated with drinking and driving. Recent years have seen an increased emphasis placed on just how dangerous distracted driving can be as well. Yet most of those efforts have been aimed at getting drivers to stop using their cell phones while behind the wheel (whether it be talking or texting). This seemingly implies that distracted driving equates only to using one’s cell phone wile driving, when in reality there are actually several different forms of distracted driving

Indeed, a joint effort between the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance pinpointed three major categories of driving distractions. These include: 

  • Visual distractions: Any activities that force one’s eyes off the road
  • Cognitive distractions: Any activities that pull one’s attention away from the road
  • Manual distractions: Any activities that force one to remove one (or both) hands from the steering wheel

These categories imply that almost any activity behind the wheel (other than driving) can be distracting, and indeed that is the truth. Adjusting mirrors, applying makeup, changing the radio station or even talking require at least a modicum of attention. 

While some of the aforementioned distractions may be momentary and not place a driver, their passengers or others on the road around them in serious danger, there is indeed one common practice whose distracting potential is not fully appreciated: eating. Most might consider eating to be a very natural action (and thus requiring very little thought). Yet in reality, eating while driving forces one into engaging in all three recognized types of distraction. It is for this reason why information shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that as many as 80 percent of car accidents may be related to eating while driving.