Distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s attention away from safe driving. Activities that divert attention from driving include eating and drinking, daydreaming, talking or texting on cell phones, changing music on the radio, fiddling with the navigation system and talking to people in the vehicle.
Knowing the signs of distracted driving will help drivers avoid doing the activities themselves and also avoid being near distracted drivers out on the road.
How to spot a distracted driver
Defensive driving is key in avoiding motor vehicle accidents. Signs of distracted driving include erratic movements, driving too fast or very slow, slow response times and the inability to maintain lane position.
When a driver focuses on something other than driving, his or her brain is not fully engaged on the road resulting in slow responses to changing road conditions or situations. The distracted person could make dangerous moves such as taking more time to stop at traffic lights or drifting out of the lane.
More telltale signs of a distracted driver include using a handheld device while driving, looking down frequently, wavering back and forth across lines, pausing and sudden braking and paying attention to billboards or other off-road scenery.
Those driving near distracted drivers should remove themselves from their path and leave plenty of space between cars while driving.
How to prevent and fight distracted driving
Parents can help teach their children about the responsibilities that come with driving by leading by example through modeling safe practices, speaking out at community meetings and supporting local safety laws. Families can read and sign a pledge to show their commitment to never drive distracted. Teens can share reminders on social media and encourage their friends to not drive while distracted.
Employers and educators can also play their party by establishing a company policy on distracted driving or having their students commit to distraction-free driving.