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Why is distraction such a major issue for road safety?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | car accidents |

Most people recognize that distracted driving is dangerous, as there have been many campaigns intended to raise awareness about the hazard of mobile devices used by those driving vehicles. However, distraction remains a consistent safety concern that causes thousands of preventable traffic deaths every year in the United States.

The average motorist will be able to spot at least a few distracted drivers on any given drive, as many people do not even attempt to hide that they have their phones in their hands while driving. Despite near-universal awareness of the risks and laws intended to deter people from distracted driving, it remains a major safety concern. There are a few fairly obvious reasons why distracted driving is such a challenging issue to address.

People can’t bring themselves to disconnect

Digital distraction, in particular, is challenging to resolve because it connects to addictive behaviors in individual motorists. People feel like they need to respond instantly when they get a message from someone else and may struggle to set their phone down or ignore incoming notifications. Even hands-free systems intended to enhance driver safety are still a source of distraction, and drivers may pick up their phones to look over a message before sending it to check for accuracy. Most people tell themselves that just checking a single message isn’t a major issue, but then they continue doing so repeatedly through a drive and every time they get behind the wheel, which adds up to significantly enhanced risk.

Distraction isn’t just about devices

Another reason that distraction at the wheel is such a difficult issue to address is that many people only think about mobile phones and similar sources of digital distraction when trying to improve public safety. However, distracted driving includes all kinds of activities, including drinking a coffee on the way to work, putting on makeup at a stoplight or having an intense conversation with a passenger. Any activities that keep someone from fully focusing on driving are a distraction, and it is virtually impossible to pass legislation prohibiting all forms of distraction at the wheel.

Motorists can reduce their personal risk by acknowledging and avoiding sources of distraction and trying to identify distracted drivers on the road. Adjusting personal habits for the risk factors that contribute to most crashes might help someone stay safer or at least avoid personal responsibility for a crash.


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