The risks of distracted driving
Distracted driving is an underlying factor in many vehicle accidents today. The following are some frequently asked questions about distracted driving.
How do authorities define distracted driving?
Distracted driving is a non-driving activity that takes the driver’s attention off the road. Such distractions increase the risk of accidents. Distractions fall into three main categories:
- Visual (takes your eyes off the road)
- Manual (causes you to remove your hands from the wheel)
- Cognitive (takes your mind off the road)
What are hands-free cell phones, and are they safe to use while driving?
Hands-free devices include headsets, speakerphones or other devices you don’t have to hold. Studies show that cellphone use, whether hands-free or not, lessens a driver’s performance. Hand-held devices may be slightly worse. However, both types make drivers more at risk for missing important audio and visual cues that could help them avoid an accident.
Which is worse—talking with someone in the car or on a cell phone?
Research findings vary. Some show that both activities bear the same risk. Other research indicates that cell phone use is more dangerous. One factor that makes a substantial difference is that a passenger can also monitor the driving situation and pause or alert the driver to possible dangers. However, a person speaking with the driver on a cellphone is unaware of driving conditions. Even so, when a two or more teenagers are in the vehicle, the risk of crashes increases.
What age group is most at risk for distracted driving accidents?
Drivers under 20 are less experienced and have the greatest risk of distraction-related fatal crashes.
Reference: NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
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