The Most Dangerous Driving Distraction

Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Take The Pledge

Your Phone is the Most Dangerous Driving Distraction

Smartphones get blamed frequently for being a distraction, but are they really the worst distraction? Consider all of the things people do or deal with while driving…

Common Driving Distractions

If you’re starving and are strained for time, you might just pop through the drive-thru and grab a quick bite. And chances are, if you’re hungry enough, you’ll probably grab a few bites as you drive.

Picking the kids up from school? It’s likely you’ll have plenty of questions about their day or that they’ll have a story to regale you with as you drive home. Maybe you’ll need to pass snacks to the back seat or break up an argument as you try to pay attention the road.

Eating and talking to (or dealing with) passengers are two common driving distractions. Others include changing the radio station, daydreaming, and phone-related distractions. That latter seems to be a growing list. What began as just phone calls over a decade ago has morphed into texts, social media apps, and game apps—and the occasional phone call. If there’s a way to be distracted, modern-day drivers are probably going to find it.

And while we all know driving while distracted is dangerous, are any distractions actually worse than others?

The Distracted Driving Study

To find out, researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the University of Houston tested 59 drivers to see how particular distractions affected their driving. To recreate distractions in their test, subjects drove under four different conditions. Subjects drove without distraction, while pondering a math problem, while focusing on emotionally-charged questions, and while distracted by texts. (You can read more about the study in this CNN article).

The driving distractions caused jitteriness in the drivers and increased their sweating. However, to the surprise of researchers, when the driver’s focused on the math or emotional questions, they were able to continue driving straight. Essentially, they worked on a sort of “autopilot” that continued to watch the road even though their thoughts were elsewhere.

In contrast, texting caused subjects to veer. So why did the responses differ across distractions?

Well, researchers believe for the “autopilot” to activate (i.e. when the anterior cingulate cortex, or the ACC, takes over), your eye-hand coordination can’t be disrupted. Because the participants kept their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel while dealing with stressful questions, their ACCs were able to control the driving aspect while their brains thought about the problems.

When you get a text and look at your phone, you break the eye-hand coordination inherent in driving, which doesn’t let the ACC function properly. If you consider your own experience driving, you may recognize similar results.

For example, while driving home after work and thinking about some problem, do you really remember how the drive home was? Not always. Chances are, your ACC played a role in getting you home safely. What about the last time you answered a text while driving? You may have had to jerk the wheel to straighten your vehicle out and stay on the road.

Your best bet for getting around town safely is to keep your phone out of reach and say goodbye to distractions. Focus on the task at hand—driving.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Consult a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer

Whether you’re a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, or driver, a distracted driver presents a risk. They can be difficult to spot but are alarmingly dangerous. Every year, too many people are injured or killed because of dangerous or reckless driving behaviors.

If you’ve suffered an injury because of another driver’s poor choices, consulting with a Tampa car accident lawyer can give you a better idea about your legal options. Severe injuries can lead to numerous expenses and sometimes even necessitate lifelong care. A knowledgeable Tampa car accident lawyer can help you form a plan so you and your family can focus on the work of recovering.

Distracted drivers cause preventable accidents, and you shouldn’t have to pay for it. A skilled Tampa car accident lawyer can help you collect the compensation you deserve from an insurer or the negligent party. Don’t let growing medical bills and lost wages worry you any longer—consult with a Tampa car accident lawyer today.