While at a stoplight, you may glance over to the car next to you and notice the driver is texting. You may consider yourself a safe driver who rarely, if ever, falls victim to the temptation of checking your phone while driving. Seeing another driver so clearly distracted can cause you to worry about your own safety amidst the drivers around you.

Unfortunately, distracted driving continues to be a problem across both Texas and the country. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 19 percent of the 537,475 motor vehicle crashes in 2017 involved distracted driving. Nationally, almost eight in ten consumers admit to talking on the phone while driving.

Distracted driving can take many forms

Many consider texting to be the ultimate form of distracted driving. To some extent, this is true. Distracted driving is comprised of three categories: manual, visual and cognitive. Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the steering wheel, visual distractions involve averting your eyes from the road and cognitive distractions involve keeping your attention from the task of driving.

As texting encompasses all three of these categories, it can be especially dangerous. However, distracted driving also includes any action that distracts drivers from safely operating their vehicle. This can include talking on the phone, eating, using social media, fiddling with the radio or your GPS and even talking with other passengers in the car.

Considerations to keep yourself safe

As a driver or passenger, there are several things you can implement to keep yourself safe on the road, including:

  • Maintaining space between your car and others. Keeping a safe distance between the cars around you can help give you necessary reaction time.
  • Driving defensively. This can include identifying potential threats around you and acting both appropriately and safely to such threats.
  • Turning your phone on Do Not Disturb mode. By preventing notifications from surfacing while driving, you can reduce the temptation to check your phone.
  • Discussing driver behavior with loved ones. Whether as a passenger in a car or as a proactive discussion, talk about the dangers of distracted driving.

On the road, many things are out of your control. However, being vigilant and practicing safe driving techniques can help to protect you against potential threats and unsafe drivers.