So, what are distracted driving behaviors? There are the obvious things, like fatigue and talking to the passenger, but there are other factors you may not think enough about:
Competition for Visual Processing
Taking your eyes off the road to read a text, looking to see the name of the song on the radio, or checking on your child in the backseat (or dog in the front seat!) are all behaviors that force your eyes away from the road. Unfortunately, people do these things all the time without much thought, but it just takes a second of distraction for an accident to occur. When something or someone is vying for your attention, you can’t always focus on the road and what’s going on around you.
Perhaps your eyes are still on the road, but you take one hand off the wheel to adjust the radio, re-route your GPS or search for the piece of candy you dropped between the seats. Although your eyes are still on the road, if you need to stop suddenly or change lanes, you have far less control over your vehicle when just one hand is on the wheel.
Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel – these are characteristics of a driver paying attention. But an important factor that’s missing is mental alertness. With endless lists of to-dos, worries about life’s pressures, and thoughts about plans for tomorrow, it’s easy to let your mind drift behind the wheel. If you’re not alert on the road, it’s easy to miss the car swerving in front of you or the pedestrian crossing the street.