When most people consider distracted driving, they think of someone not watching the road. This form of distracted driving is quite common. If you drive for long enough, you’ll see people reading, looking at passengers, grooming themselves in the rear-view mirror and doing other activities that take their eyes off the road.

Some people might consider distraction as something that takes one or both hands off the wheel. Things like holding a cell phone, sipping from their morning coffee, fiddling with the radio or other actions are certainly a form of distraction. A driver needs to have at least one hand on the wheel to have safe control of the vehicle.

There is a third form of distraction, however, that is harder to spot. A person can have eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, but still be dangerously distracted. The third type of distraction involves what a driver is thinking about while behind the wheel. The reason cell phones are such a dangerous distraction is that they have the power to pull a driver’s eyes, hands and mind from their proper place.

What were you thinking about?

Most states have reacted to the sharp rise in distracted driving accidents by banning texting behind the wheel. These bans exist in all but 3 states. Even with those bans in place, distracted driving deaths continue to rise. The problem may be that a cell phone’s power to distract us is not dependent on us using it to text. If drivers are thinking about their phones, instead of about maneuvering safely through traffic, they are a danger to themselves and others. 

Putting down the cell phone is certainly a start when it comes to combating distracted driving. The problem won’t truly be solved until people can put the phones, and other distractions, out of their minds.