Three Types of Distracted Driving & How to Solve Them – Part 1: Manual Distractions

The Three Types of Distracted Driving – and How to Solve Them – Part 1: Manual Distractions

At Lytx®, we think a lot about the risks of driving while distracted. We know you do too. In fact, a recent survey of Lytx newsletter subscribers, revealed that distracted driving is the top concern that keeps them awake at night. But did you know that there are actually three types of distracted driving?

Distracted driving can be manual, visual and/or cognitive. Or more specifically, hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off the road. This three-part blog series looks at each of these types of distractions, and talks about ways for you to identify and coach these behaviors.

Manual Distractions: Hands Off the Wheel

Part one of the series is about the most basic type of distraction that plagues us all: manual distractions.

Manual driving distractions include everything from reaching for a smartphone to drinking a cup of coffee while driving. Did you know that just reaching for that smartphone can increase your chances of a collision by seven times?

According to human factors expert Nancy Grugle, Ph.D., just because a driver’s eyes are on the road doesn’t mean they’re not distracted. In the Lytx blog Not All Distractions Are Created Equal: Why Even Hands-Free Can Lead to Collisions, she explained that any task that takes the driver’s attention off of driving is potentially dangerous.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a whopping 65 percent of near-miss collisions are caused by drivers who were eating or drinking while driving. Considering how many drivers mindlessly swig their morning coffee or eat breakfast on the way to work, it’s no wonder that number is so high.

As much as we like to think that we’re masters of multi-tasking, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), our brains are not wired the way we think they are.

In the white paper “Understanding the Distracted Brain,” the NSC says that multi-tasking is a myth. The white paper states: “Human beings do not perform two tasks at the same time. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another." So while a driver may appear to be juggling multiple tasks at once, the truth is that their brain is only managing one task at a time.

Creating Awareness of an Unconscious Behavior

The good news is that distracted driving behaviors are coachable and preventable. When you capture events with a video-based safety solution, you can immediately see if a driving event, such as hard braking or swerving, was the result of a manual distraction. By sharing the video with drivers, you create an awareness about the dangers of manual distractions. In fact, many are surprised to see how close they came to a collision while they were eating or simply reaching for something. The insights that come from video evidence of a behavior are a powerful coaching tool that leaves a lasting impression on drivers when they’re out on the road.

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