Safety Officials Point To Distractions As Major Cause Of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Cell phones are part of our ever-increasingly busy lives. We try to cram as much as we can into every minute. We’ve sold ourselves on the idea that we can effectively multi-task—we listen to books while we exercise, and we engage in a various activities while we’re driving, including texting, calls, eating, drinking, and looking in the mirror. Science demonstrates that our brains are not designed to multitask. According to most studies, about 2% of people actually have the ability to effectively pay attention to more than one task at a time. In fact, some studies suggest that multitasking can lead to brain damage.
Nonetheless, more and more motorists are subject to distraction behind the wheel. According to the United States Department of Transportation, more than 1.5 million accidents every year involve distractions caused by a mobile device. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2020, 8% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States involved distracted driving.
The NHTSA defines “distracted driving” as taking one or more of three forms:
- Visual distractions, where your eyes are diverted from the road
- Manual distractions, where your hands are taken off the wheel for any reason
- Cognitive distractions, where your mental focus shifts from driving to some other task
The NHTSA also says that waiting to send or read a text, surf the internet or change a song until you’ve come to a stop sign or red light is not a good strategy, either. Some of the worst accidents happen in just those situations, where a driver fails to see a pedestrian or pulls forward based not on direct observation, but a peripheral movement.