When operating a motor vehicle, a distraction is any activity that takes the motorist’s focus off the business of driving. For drivers in Texas and most other states around the country, the term has come to be associated with cell phone use, particularly texting. While text messaging and talking on the phone can certainly draw attention away from the task at hand—to safely operate a moving vehicle—other actions can shift the driver’s attention from the road with the same dire consequences.
According to Distraction.gov, a website for the U.S. Department of Transportation, distracted drivers accounted for 27 percent of crash fatalities of motorists in their twenties. He problem is not just with young people, however. The site states that in daylight hours, electronic devices distract 660,000 drivers at any given time. Five seconds is the average time you take your eyes off the road to read or send a text message. If you are travelling at 55 mph, it is the equivalent of driving across a football field while blindfolded.
Other activities that dangerously shift your focus while driving are reading, eating, and personal grooming, such as combing your hair, putting on makeup, or flossing your teeth. Having an argument, either on the cell phone or with a passenger in the vehicle, can be catastrophically distracting.
Although global navigation systems are great for getting directions, and are often built into new cars, using any technology while the car is in motion can be as dangerous as trying to unfold and read a paper map while speeding down the highway in heavy traffic. Drivers must be aware and take care when they adjust the volume or shuffle the MP3 playlist.