Distracted driving is such a problem that numerous states have laws banning certain activities behind the wheel. Obviously, our first priority when driving should be, well, driving, but it’s all too easy to give in to the temptation to multi-task.

You may think you’re exempt from causing or being involved in a traffic accident because you’re comfortable in the driver’s seat. But statistics suggest otherwise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving deaths totaled over 3,000 in 2019. These are deaths that could have been avoided had drivers stayed focused on the road. Bountiful car repair experts at Master Muffler hope you’ll practice safe driving whether you’ve just received your license or have been driving for decades.

What’s Considered Distracted Driving?

It’s highly unlikely that every car ride will be quiet, calm, and free from distractions. However, cellphone use while driving isn’t the only thing keeping us from focusing on the road. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) classifies distracted driving in three categories:

  • Visual Distraction – eyes off the road
  • Manual Distraction – hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive Distraction – mind off the task at hand

Having a Conversation

Do you have kids? Then you’ve probably had to carry on circuitous conversations with little munchkins in the backseat. They ask you how long until you get “there,” wherever there is, they ask you what that sign says, and to turn the music up louder. They want you to open snacks and read books and grab their lovey off the floor. It’s safe to say that most caregivers of small children are also distracted drivers. 

But, even having a conversation with another grown-up in the car can keep you from focusing on the road. Sitting in silence isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes it’s necessary when navigating a particularly stressful driving situation. 

Using the Navigation System

Speaking of navigating, there’s a reason newer vehicles disable the use of the navigation system when the car is running. Additionally, some cars won’t even permit you to connect to Bluetooth after the car is in motion. This is in an effort to prevent drivers from being distracted with electronics when they should have their focus on the road instead. 

Mobile Devices

It goes without saying that mobile devices are probably the most common form of distraction for drivers. We just can’t seem to resist answering a text while driving, or scrolling social media at a stoplight. It’s a hard habit to break, but it’s worth working on to help save 3,000 lives per year and avoid costly car repairs.

Drivers Most at Risk for Distracted Driving

Data shows a breakdown of drivers most often involved in crashes due to distracted driving.

2018 Statistics

  • 25% of drivers involved in fatal crashes due to distraction were between the ages of 20 and 29
  • Drivers ages 15 to 19 are 8% more likely to be distracted than drivers over the age of 20

2019 Statistics

  • 39% of high school drivers admitted to sending a text or an email while driving (when asked about the past 30 days)

We see a lot of Bountiful car repair clients thanks to teen drivers, but we hope you’ll practice distraction-free driving to avoid the extra expense in addition to increased insurance rates.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

Have you ever heard the phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” This statement is credited to Benjamin Franklin in reference to preventing fires instead of trying to tame them once they erupt.

We think it applies to driving as well; it’s better to do a little extra planning to encourage a distraction-free drive, even if it seems inconvenient or like overkill.

Start ‘Em Young

When it comes to driving with young passengers in the car, try to get them acclimated at an early age. Not every kid is willing to sit in their car seat, but repeated exposure can help make car rides more bearable for everyone.

Additionally, try implementing consistent routines in the car to help your kids know what to expect. Set them up with a snack and a drink before you’re behind the wheel. Choose music or turn on the in-car entertainment before you hit the road. And, most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to ignore your screaming kid in order to focus on driving safely. 

As for teen drivers, start showing them good examples of distraction-free driving even before they’re old enough to sit next to you in the front seat. Set the precedent that your phone stays in your pocket or bag while driving. Recruit your kids to read and respond to messages for you if it’s time-sensitive to do so when you’re on the road. Talk with them at a young age about how offenses while driving can lead to loss of privileges for drivers. Let them know that “liking” an Instagram post is not worth an expensive ticket or suspended driver’s license.

Learn the Laws

Speaking of consequences, familiarize yourself with the laws in your state. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) lists the following:

  • 25 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam have banned drivers from hand-held phone use while driving
  • 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam have banned texting while driving for all drivers
  • 37 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all cell phone use by novice drivers
  • 23 states and the District of Columbia prohibit school bus drivers from cell phone use while driving

In Utah, fines for distracted driving can be as much as $750 per offense, and it can also mean up to three months of jail time. And since the misdemeanor charges are permanent, it can help you rethink whether or not you really need to get involved in that trending Twitter thread before bringing your vehicle to a complete stop.

The Bountiful car repair team at Master Muffler wants you to drive safely so we only see you for routine maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations.