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Stay focused: The Dangers of Distracted Driving

The CDC tells us that there will be over 3,000 deaths due to distracted driving in 2024. Statistics show that there are 400 deaths, every year in the United States, caused by texting alone. Distracted driving kills and injures thousands of people every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were 3,308 lives lost in 2022 because of distracted driving.

So, what is distracted driving? "Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving."

There are four types of distracted driving listed below:

Manual- This is when you manipulate something other than the steering wheel. In todays fast and busy world life has made it too easy to get ready for work while on your way to work. Some visors have mirrors on them even on the driver's side. You can put your make-up on while in the car, text your boss or colleagues, heck we even eat and drive to save time. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting, browsing, and dialing on your phone resulted in the longest duration of drivers taking their eyes off the road.

Visual- This is when you are looking at something other than the roadway. Some might call it "rubbernecking." This is the curious onlooker. Watching an accident that occurred in the opposite lanes, some cute wildlife on the side of the road, among many other things. Looking at your navigation in the car is also a visual distraction. Or someone sends you a cute GIF via your cell phone, awwwwww.

Cognitive- Means you are thinking of other things other than driving. Daydreaming while driving is extremely common. Whether it's a good daydream or a bad daydream they cause you to lose focus. Reading a text that is heated from your significant other will most definitely cause you to lose focus while driving. These thoughts cause turmoil in your head which means your situational awareness goes down.

Auditory- This refers to hearing distractions. When I was in the police academy they did a test. We drove at normal speeds while talking to each other in a car and listening to the radio. We found that we didn't hear the emergency vehicles with lights and siren coming behind us until they were either directly behind us or passing us. Watch how many go through an intersection before they realize there's a ambulance or fire engine at the intersection or approaching the intersection.

At the beginning of the article we mentioned texting. Texting seems to be the biggest culprit of distracted driving. Texting covers manual, visual, and cognitive types of distraction. It covers auditory as well if a voice message is left.

Remember to stay safe, stay vigilant, and STAY FOCUSED.

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