Anything that diverts a driver’s attention from the road is a distraction. Although multitasking benefits many people at work, it is not the best policy when behind the wheel. The brain can process only certain amounts of information during a given time. Traveler’s Indemnity Company reports that completing multiple tasks simultaneously results in performance problems. When this occurs while driving, the result can be a crash at high speeds, as the distraction reduces the amount of reaction time, leaving drivers with no opportunity to hit the brakes or make other attempts to prevent the accident.
It is critical that drivers keep their eyes on the road. This can allow for maximum response time if an unexpected activity occurs on the travel lanes around or in front of them. Common distractions include the following:
- Talking to passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Personal grooming (i.e., applying makeup or shaving)
- Talking on the phone
- Using onboard technology
While texting receives the lion’s share of public attention, USA Today reports that car safety systems also lead to situations that put drivers and their passengers in danger. Drivers trust technologies that help them avoid crashes, such as lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control. As a result, drivers relax and let their guard down, increasing the risk of a collision. Individuals who are unfamiliar with the systems are less likely to depend on them, reducing distraction levels.
The sound of the alerts or flashing notifications can also take focus away from the road. From forward collision alerts to blind spot warnings, drivers tend to look for the cause of the alarm on the console, rather than increasing attention to the situation unfolding around them.