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Stow your phone, comb and book while driving

While you are stopped in a freeway traffic jam, you might have an opportunity to observe the drivers around you. Some of them are on their cell phones, of course, but you will probably find yourself amazed at the creative multi-tasking talents displayed by others.

When you think about distracted driving, texting is the activity that probably comes to mind because it gets a lot of press. However, distracted driving applies to any activity that takes your attention away from your primary task as a motorist: driving.

The main kinds of distraction

Distraction takes three primary forms: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual involves taking your eyes off the road and manual means taking your hands off the wheel. Cognitive is the most complex activity because it means taking your mind off driving. You could be daydreaming, thinking about an argument you had with your spouse or dialing a number on your cell phone. The possibilities for cognitive distraction are endless.

Examples of driving distractions

Some of those drivers you notice during traffic jams may be drinking coffee, eating a sandwich or fiddling with their radios. The more creative drivers may be applying makeup, combing their hair, reading a book propped open on the steering wheel or watching a video on a tablet. 

The texting enthusiasts

Of all these activities, the reason that texting while driving is particularly dangerous is that it involves all three main types of distraction. Reading or sending a text message requires drivers to take their eyes off the road for as much as five seconds, which at a speed of 55 miles per hour is the time it takes to travel the length of a football field. Though that may seem like only moments, that time can be deadly; the results of a 2013 study by researchers at the Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York revealed that texting is the leading cause of traffic fatalities among teens.

Watching out for others

You may be a conscientious driver, who understands the importance of storing your phone, comb and book. However, once the traffic jam clears up, you will have to be alert to potential trouble. The drivers around you will likely continue to groom, read and watch their videos once you are all up to speed again, so stay aware to stay safe

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