In a society where we’re attached to our smartphones, tablets, and other fancy gadgets, it’s easy to continue our digital engagement habits when we get behind the wheel. But that “On my way” text message or quick bite to eat on the way back to the office can quickly turn disastrous. Distracted driving is performing other tasks that could potentially distract a driver from the primary task of operating the vehicle. Examples of distracted driving include:

  • Texting
  • Using a smartphone/social media
  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting a stereo/radio
  • Applying makeup/grooming
  • Reaching for an object in the car
  • Tending to children/pets
  • Talking to passengers

Some of these may seem harmless, but performing any of these activities while driving significantly increases your chances of getting into a wreck. However, because it requires visual, cognitive, and manual attention, texting has become the most alarming form of distracted driving. Think about it this way: a typical driver will take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds to send a text message. If they’re going 55 mph, that’s the equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with their eyes closed.

While young/inexperienced drivers are most likely to engage in distracted driving, everyone is at risk. If you’re not convinced, get familiar with these stats:

  • Over 80 percent of all drivers in America own smartphones and nearly half of those people admit to texting and driving at some point.
  • Texting and driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash than a driver who is not distracted.
    In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
  • At any given moment, approximately 660,000 drivers in the U.S. are using a smartphone or other mobile device while driving.

It’s easy to get distracted while driving, and often times we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But know that an innocent text message, even at a red light, or a quick search for the song that’s been in your head all day can instantly ruin the lives of yourself and many others. There are consequences for distracted driving, both emotional and legal. In our next blog, we’ll explore the laws surrounding distracted driving and what you can do to keep from becoming its next victim.