Driving is something most people do almost every day. Because of how often we do it, it can be easy to forget just how demanding a task it is to operate a motor vehicle. We can also forget the fact that a car is a big, heavy machine capable of causing catastrophic damage.
Perhaps this is why so many people attempt to do other things while they drive. However, the idea people can multitask safely behind the wheel and still be a safe driver is a myth, as are the following misconceptions about distracted driving.
Myth #1: Checking a message for a few seconds is no big deal.
It might seem like glancing at your phone to read a message is perfectly fine. After all, it just takes a second, right?
But the fact is that when you check your messages, send a text or otherwise use your phone, you are distracted in three ways, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Visual distraction is taking your eyes off the road to look at your phone.
- Cognitive distraction is concentrating on the phone instead of driving.
- Manual distraction is taking your hands off the wheel to use your phone.
Further, even if it just takes a few seconds to read a message, you could travel the length of a football field in that time.
Myth #2: It may be dangerous, but it’s not illegal.
Louisiana bans texting while driving. State laws also prohibit all phone usage by novice and young drivers while operating a motor vehicle.
Myth #3: I’m not using my phone, so I’m not distracted.
Using a phone while driving is one of the most common types of distracted driving, but it is not the only type. Other distracting behaviors include:
- Using a GPS device
- Scrolling through radio stations or podcasts
- Tending to passengers in the backseat
- Having a dog or other pet loose in the car
- Trying to find something in the car, the glove compartment or a bag
These behaviors can also create visual, cognitive or manual distractions.
Any driver who believes these myths and engages in distracted driving is putting themselves and others in real danger.