You already know that texting while driving is a no-no, but there are more causes for distracted driving than trying to respond to a last-minute text. In fact, some of the things many drivers consider normal driving behavior has the potential to increase their crash risk.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that nine people are killed and more than a thousand people in the US are injured each day in crashes that reportedly involve a distracted driver. Anything that diverts your attention from the road and surrounding drivers is a distraction, even if they're things you might not consider as such.
Surprising Causes of Distracted Driving
If your eyes aren't on the road, your hands aren't on the wheel and your attention isn't on the act of driving, you're distracted. Even the simplest things have the potential to turn into a car crash, including:
- A Full Bladder—In a 2010 Neurourology and Urodynamics study, test subjects with an extreme need to void their bladder showed substantially impaired attention and working memory function. In fact, drivers who need a restroom break are cognitively impaired on roughly the same level as one with a 0.005% blood alcohol concentration. It's also on par with driving after a full 24 hours without sleep. Taking a restroom break can be the difference between a safe trip and an accident since the same study indicated a full return to normal cognitive function once the bladder is emptied.
- Hands-Free Cell Phone Features—Integrated infotainment systems and hands-free smartphone features may seem like safety measures, but don't be lulled into a false sense of security; research indicates hands-free voice commands are also distractions since it takes up to 27 seconds to regain your full concentration on the road after using them.
- Your Own Emotions—Jumping in the car with the intention of taking a spin to clear your head may seem tempting, but your crash risk increases tenfold when you're angry, crying, agitated or otherwise upset.
- Children—They're the light of your life, but sometimes it feels like parents spend most of their day ferrying kids from one activity to the next. According to an Australian study, driving with a child is up to twelve times more dangerous than talking on the phone while you're on the road. During a 16-minute trip, the average parent spends more than three minutes with their eyes off the road or roughly 20 percent of the trip.
THE REPERCUSSIONS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
From minor fender-benders to serious car crashes, distracted driving presents a very real risk. Not just for the distracted drivers and their passengers, but also for everyone on the road around them. Even a seemingly insignificant rear-end collision can have painful repercussions for the victim of the crash, with whiplash being one of the most common injuries resulting from the accident.
Treating musculoskeletal injuries resulting from a run-in with distracted driving is no mean feat, but it’s one of the areas where chiropractors shine. From correcting misalignments to relieving the pain of neck, spinal and other musculoskeletal injuries, a chiropractic treatment plan can help to reduce pain, stiffness and restore range of motion, all without prescription painkillers or invasive treatment.