For many people, mobile phones are the top response for potential dangerous distractions while driving. After all, we all know how smartphones can suck away our time and attention. Looking down at one while behind the wheel can mean taking your eyes and your mental focus off the road. That can create very real risk for a potential car crash.
Distracted driving is a serious concern for everyone on the road. Knowing the dangers created by distracted driving is important, as is understanding the different forms of distraction that can lead to fatal crashes and collisions. Despite what you may think, phones are not the biggest risk factor.
Mobile phones are a significant source of driving distraction
According to a report by Insurance Journal analyzing data from 2010 and 2011, approximately 12 percent of analyzed crashes relate to the use of cellphones. This figure includes drivers engaged in conversations on the phone, as well as those attempting to dial, read texts or compose text messages. That makes cellphones the second biggest cause of distraction.
The next most common source of distraction was something outside of the vehicle. Imagine drivers rubbernecking at the scene of the crash or staring at pedestrians, and you understand. Events, objects and people outside of a vehicle cause about seven percent of crashes. Other occupants in the vehicle cause another five percent, while reaching for or using a device in the vehicle causes another two percent of fatal crashes.
Internal or general distraction is the biggest risk factor
Do you ever find yourself lost in thought while driving? Roughly 62 percent of fatal distracted driving crashes resulted from an inability to focus on the road. When drivers get caught up in thought about something other than the task at hand, they can ignore warning signs and sudden changes in traffic in front of them.
Whether you're worried about something at your work or rehashing an argument with a friend, anything that causes your mind to focus on something other than the road and your vehicle could be dangerous. Many people tend to think of time spent in a vehicle as down time or wasted time. In reality, each of those minutes should focus on safely getting to your destination.
Know what to do if a distracted driver causes a crash
Sadly, even for those who put safety above distraction, other people can still put them at risk. Do your best to look for signs of distraction in other drivers, such as handling food or a lack of hands on the steering wheel (potentially a sign of texting below the dashboard). Try to carefully avoid driving in close proximity with anyone noticeably distracted.
If you do find yourself in a collision caused by a distracted driver, be sure to contact law enforcement and share the information that leads you to believe distraction played a role. Document the scene of the crash and obtain the information of the other driver.