Distracted Driving: It’s not just texting and driving you need to worry about

Texting and driving is dangerous, there is no doubt about that. But while so much focus has gone into encouraging drivers to put their phones down, the other causes of distracted driving have been pushed aside despite also being very dangerous. It’s important for fleet managers to understand the different types of distracted driving so they can incorporate them all into training and reminders to their drivers to limit or remove all distractions to prevent costly or deadly accidents that are often very much avoidable.

What is considered distracted driving?

Simply put, distracted driving occurs whenever something takes a drivers’ attention away from driving, even for a second. In recent years the prominence of texting and driving and the consequences of partaking in that specific form of distracted driving have been at the forefront of road safety campaigns as it is illegal in Ontario but the truth is there are many ways a driver can be distracted which can result in similar consequences as texting, which unfortunately can include serious injury and death to truck drivers and others on the roads.

Did you know there are four different types of distracted driving?

It’s true, distracted driving doesn’t only require your eyes or hands to be off the road, and there are in fact four different types of distracted driving. So what are the four types of distractions?

  1. Manual: this type of distraction includes any reason which causes a driver to take their hands off the wheel while driving. This type of driving distraction is extremely dangerous as every driver should be ready to steer and change gears at all times, which becomes even more important if you are in harm’s way and don’t have the ability to maneuver your vehicle to avoid a collision.
  2. Visual: this type of driving distraction includes anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. Though some may think glancing out the window for a few seconds at something that’s caught your eye isn’t dangerous, those people should think of the size of a football field. They should think of a football because at an average speed of 88.5 km/h (or 55 mph), taking your eyes off the road for only five seconds is the equivalent to driving with your eyes closed for the entire length of a football field. Now think of the damage that could be done driving that far on a road with other cars and pedestrians with your eyes closed.
  3. Cognitive/Mental: this type of distraction includes thinking about something other than driving when behind the wheel. This is a common occurrence and often a difficult distraction to avoid since people often have a lot on the go but it’s important to try and keep your mind as focused on the road as possible. While you may feel you are driving just fine while thinking of other things, in the event another vehicle has an emergency and/or comes into your path, not having your thinking set on defensive driving to avoid being in a collision could make the difference between a few seconds of reaction time and whether an accident occurs or not.
  4. Auditory: this type of driving distraction consists of having your attention preoccupied by noise including a ringing phone or a conversation both on a mobile or Bluetooth device or in-person with a passenger. This is an important one for both drivers and passengers to keep in mind as you can picture yourself talking to someone, a conversation includes the auditory distraction as well as visual if the driver takes their eyes off the road to look at their passenger, as well as manual if the driver uses their hands to emphasize their conversation.