Standing Up For You

What you should know about texting, selfies and other driver distractions

Distracted driving is a major contributor to serious car accidents, injuries and deaths in Kentucky and across the United States every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 2,841 people were killed and more than 400,000 people were injured in distracted driving car accidents in 2018 alone.

Despite these alarming statistics, drivers continue to use their cellphones while behind the wheel. In fact, at any given moment of the day, more than 600,000 drivers are on their cellphones.

What are driver distractions?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three main types of driver distractions: manual, visual and cognitive. While manual distractions require drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel, visual distractions require drivers to take their eyes off the road. Cognitive distractions, on the other hand, divert motorists’ attention away from driving altogether.

Driving distractions can involve one, two or even all three types of distractions. Some of these distracting tasks include the following:

  • Talking on a hand-held or hands-free cellphone
  • Using voice-activated technology
  • Listening to or changing the radio stations
  • Taking selfies on a cellphone
  • Posting on social media, creating texts or composing emails
  • Dealing with noisy passengers in the car or kids in the back seat

For example, when a driver takes a selfie, he or she must remove their hands from the steering wheel to use their cellphone, take their eyes off the road to pose for the selfie and remove their focus off the road while accomplishing all of this.

What are the dangers?

When drivers are not fully focused on driving, they often experience a reduced response time to things like pedestrian crosswalks, bicyclists, traffic lights, bad weather conditions, objects in the road or other drivers’ behaviors.
The National Safety Council reports that when the human brain cannot focus on two complex tasks at the same time. Instead, it shifts back and forth between one task and the other. This leaves brief moments in time where the brain is not focused on driving at all, increasing the risk for an accident.