You look away just for a second, maybe even a half-second, and suddenly you find yourself intimately familiar with the rear end of a school bus.
Conditions in traffic can change that quick, which is made even worse by the sheer number of distractions that tempt drivers to look away from the road these days. Whether the distractions are in the car with us (phones, kids, food) or take the form of eye candy along the road, driving while distracted is a big problem.
Such a big problem, in fact, that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is hosting a summit on the topic on September 21 in Washington D.C. and broadcasting it to the world via www.distraction.gov.
Keep reading for some of the most common driving distractions… most that we need to eliminate and one I hope stays around forever.
It’s so easy to send a quick message through our phones, but searching for the right letters while driving means a lot of time with our heads down. That’s a recipe for a rear-end collision, or worse, colliding with a bicycle or pedestrian. Put the phone down!
Fiddling with controls
It seems carmakers are building more distractions into every new vehicle. iPod connectivity, GPS navigation, movie screens… they all mean more controls to adjust and will ultimately lead to concentrating on things other than traffic. Now there’s news that GM wants to link OnStar with Facebook and Chrysler will offer in-car wi-fi. Look out!
I would wager that a good percentage of meals in this country are consumed in the car. It’s a pitiful statement on humanity when someone dies because he was too busy stuffing his face with a burger to see the light turn red.
Short of leaving the kids home alone on a regular basis, there’s not much we can do to eliminate the driving distractions they create. Put all the TV screens and cupholders you want in your car, the kids are still going to fight, and you are still going to have to referee them. Just try to do it without turning around.
I would rank this distraction as number one on the list. When given the choice between looking at the smoking rear end of an old pickup or that of a fit woman jogging in running shorts, well, that’s why we have car insurance.
Are you a distracted driver?