6 Driving Distractions and How to Avoid Them

By Tokkie Ferreira       Last updated March. 2, 2018

Car accidents can be caused by a number of different factors but distracted driving is one of the most common one. Driving, as a critical activity, requires undivided attention and any form of distraction can result in a car accident.

For a clearer understanding of how we get distracted while driving, let us consider the forms of distractions associated with driving:

  • Visual distraction happens when a driver takes his/her eyes off of the road to observe or attend to other things.
  • Manual distraction happens when a driver takes either a hand or the two hands off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive distraction happens when a driver takes his/her mind off the task of driving and is not 100% focused mentally.

There are different causes of these distractions, but they can all lead to different situations ranging from mild scratches to fatal accidents.

Here are 6 of the most common driving distractions and how you can avoid them:

1. Texting While Driving


In spite of the many warnings drivers generally receive about the dangers of texting while driving, many are still guilty of this.

Texting encompasses the three forms of distractions. As you type the messages, at least one of your hands is out of the wheel (mechanical); your eyes will be on your phone’s screen (visual), and your mind will be with the person you are texting (cognitive).

This can have very serious implications and can result in car accidents.

2. Use of Cell Phones


Many assume that once they are using headphones to make phone calls, they are not distracted.

You may still keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, but you will certainly be thinking about the conversation you are making and not on driving safely.

It is even worse if you are fidgeting with the phone or headset while having the conversation.

3. Conversing with Friends/Passengers


Engaging in conversations while driving can be very distracting at times. Among young drivers, it has been found that those driving alone are less likely to get involved in an accident than those driving with friends.

Always remind your friends/family that you are driving when you see that you are getting distracted by the conversation and cannot focus on driving properly.

4. Eating and Drinking


It might seem like a great idea to quickly unwrap a snack and take one or two bites, but this can equally be a really serious distraction. Drinking is also another distraction.

Once you grab a bottle with your hand and tilt your head to take a gulp, you are distracted visually, mechanically, and cognitively.

It is best to eat before you drive or wait until you are parked before eating or drinking.

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5. Adjusting the Radio or Music Player


Driving with your favourite song playing on the background or listening to your favourite radio station can be fun no doubt, but the fun can easily turn to danger when you lean over to adjust your music player. Within that split second, an accident can occur.

You can avoid such scenarios by planning ahead before you start driving. Making a playlist with the songs of your choice well in advance is a good solution.

6. Reading Maps While Driving


Reading maps or directions while driving is another dangerous habit that can cause the three major forms of distraction.

It is advised to get mobile applications that make it easier to find directions. Most GPS systems and mobile apps also come with an audio guide that help you reach the destination without having to look at the map continuously.

To minimize the losses in case of an unfortunate and unforeseen event, it is paramount to have a good car insurance.

Contact an experienced insurance broker in South Africa to help you get the best car insurance based on your needs and take the first and most important step towards minimizing losses and damage.

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