When people think of distracted driving, teenagers on their phones is usually the first thing that comes to mind. There's no question that our increasingly screen-focused culture leads some people to poor decisions, such as reading or composing a text while driving. Others may try to take videos, pictures of the road conditions or selfies. Some people even check social media while they should focus on the road.
Any of these behaviors are dangerous. After all, they do take your eyes and your mind off of the road. It's important to take whatever steps are necessary to avoid the temptation of your phone or other smart device while you drive. If you have to put it in the truck or the glove box, do it. You should also take steps to address other sources of distraction in your vehicle.
Food, grooming and dials are all very distracting
If you have a long commute, you may think it's smart to try to save time by eating your breakfast on the way to work. However, doing so could increase your chance of not making it to work at all, due to a serious crash. Smoking is another serious distraction, especially when you're lighting your cigarette.
You may think it only takes a few seconds to change the temperature in the vehicle or the song playing, but it often takes longer than you expect. While you're scrolling through the radio stations for good music, your eyes and mind are off the road. Keep these changes to a minimum or ask your passenger to adjust the climate settings or radio for you.
Other people, in person and on the phone, can cause issues
Getting into an intense conversation with other people in the vehicle can make your commute go more quickly. It can also cause you to focus more on what everyone is saying than on what's happening outside the vehicle. Turning around to look at people, arguing and otherwise engaging more with your passengers than the street could put you in danger.
Similarly, phone calls can create extra risk. Looking down to dial or answer the phone is a risk factor. So is any kind of heated conversation. Even if you use an interface in your dashboard or a Bluetooth device for hands-free calls, your mind won't be on the task at hand.
Speak up when you suspect distraction in a crash
If you get into a crash or collision caused by another driver, make sure you alert law enforcement to any concerns about distracted driving. They can check someone's phone for signs of a call or sent texts, even if there is no specialized device for that purpose yet. In some cases, traffic camera images could verify that someone was looking at a cellphone or fighting with a passenger while driving.
If you don't speak up, law enforcement may not realize what caused the crash. Anyone who puts other people in danger like this should be held accountable. Speaking up helps ensure that proper consequences follow the decision to drive while distracted.