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Second nature: the dangers and causes of distracted driving

For many, driving is second nature. Drivers just put the car in gear and go. But that second nature mindset is a dangerous one to have on the road. That is because it can lead the driver to think they can do other tasks while driving, too.

To many, the tasks may simple enough. But every time they look down at their phone at their GPS or turn the radio dial it takes their eyes off the road. It may seem like just a moment, but that's all it takes for a car in front to stop suddenly or merge at the last minute. It's called distracted driving, and can have devastating consequences.

Common causes of distracted driving

Distracted driving is pretty common and comes in many forms. You've probably witnessed it as your friends drive and have other drivers do it on the road. Some of the most common examples are:

  • Texting - This is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, especially among teens where distracted driving accounts for nearly 60 percent of teen crashes.
  • Makeup/Grooming - Everyone has those days where they're running late and think they could finish getting ready in the car. In an effort to try to be efficient, some drivers put on their makeup or shave while driving.
  • Music - Jamming out while driving is fun, but it can be extremely distracting finding that song or avoiding commercials. Drivers will turn their attention away from the road to search in their smart phones or continually adjust the radio dial.

The numbers behind the problem

Recent years have seen a growing number of injuries and deaths caused by distracted drivers.

A 2018 report released by TeenSafe says that there were 391,000 distracted driver-related injuries in 2015, and 3,477 deaths. Additionally, a U.S. Department of Transportation report reveals that there were 3,450 deaths related to distracted driving in 2016.

Why is distracted driving so common?

Like anything you do repeatedly, with time, it becomes muscle memory: turn the key, put the car in drive, and go. You get comfortable and you know where you're going, so what's the hurt in checking your phone every once in a while? The reality is a driver's attention only needs to be diverted elsewhere for three seconds in order for a crash to happen.

Keep a friend safe

Drivers keeping their eyes on the road is beneficial for everyone. So, it is always best to point out to your friends when it looks like their eyes may be drifting from the road. Lives are depending on it.

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