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Distractions and how it contributes to accidents

A distraction is anything that diverts the driver's attention from the primary task of driving. Unfortunately, this type of inattentiveness permeates Louisiana roadways. With more devices designed to keep us plugged into the world around us, drivers are easily distracted from the road. This can have catastrophic results.

There are different classifications of distractions that take attention away from the road. Physically taking eyes-off the road is a type of visual distraction. Cognitive distraction is another type that occurs when someone has their mind on a task other than driving. A manual distraction occurs anytime the driver's hands are off of the wheel. Any one of these three classes of distractions can cause an accident, but the combination of any of the three can increase a driver's risk of getting into a collision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) conducted research on how driver performance is impacted by distractions. As it relates to safety, there two basic components of distraction. The first is distracting task. Task demands relates back to the three classifications of distractions mentioned in the last paragraph. Task demands evaluate how many resources (visual, cognitive or manual) are needed to perform the act. The other component of safety is exposure or how frequently drivers engage in a task. Drivers who engage in both components of distraction are more likely to cause an accident if they engage in these behaviors 50% of the time.

The bottom line is that distracted driving can cost lives. No text message is worth the life of anyone on the road. Drivers must remain vigilant on the roads to prevent distractions.

Source: NHTSA.gov, "Distraction," accessed on Aug. 11, 2014

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