Identifying and rooting out bad driving habits
Distracted driving is anything that distracts us and takes our eyes and attention away from the road while operating a motor vehicle, to such a degree that it compromises our safety and that of our passengers. Let's look at some driver distractions while driving, as well as some other bad habits that often accompany distracted driving.
Despite the fact that Americans drove 13.2% fewer miles during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic fatalities were worse compared to 2019:
NHTSA analyses show that the main drivers of fatalities in the United States were impaired driving, speeding, and not wearing their seatbelts. Distracted driving as a form of careless driving can now be added to the list, as it is becoming one of America's major health concerns. The CDC estimates that eight people die every day in the USA due to accidents caused by distracted drivers. These are the sad facts and you'll notice that many of the worst habits below have to do with being distracted behind the wheel.
Here are the worst and most dangerous bad driving habits to avoid while driving:
It's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security because you don't drive under the influence, wear your seatbelt, don't speed, or drive a safe, modern car such as a Volvo XC90 or Tesla Model S with all the latest safety and driver-assistance features. However, most people tend to be oblivious to the distractions that take their attention away from the road. Do what you can to reduce distractions by getting a hands-free kit for your phone first of all, especially because cell phone use is the biggest problem. Don't become that distracted driver that adds to our grisly statistics.
The responsibility to take stock of your bad habits while driving and actively do something about them starts with you. Electric cars have brought new dangers to light as pedestrians don't hear them coming, adding to the problem of distracted driving. Some experts believe driverless cars might put a stop to the problem of distracted drivers but the technology is still far from mature. Right now, knowing how to reduce dangerous driving habits is up to us - the people behind the wheel - in a bid to be good examples for a new generation of young drivers.
The NHTSA partners with the police to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving through public service announcements and campaigns, as well as on its Facebook and Twitter pages, where it shares tips and stories to involve the public. While states determine their own laws in terms of dealing with distracted driving, the NHTSA provides federal investments to address states' needs. One result is April being named Distracted Driving Awareness Month, running in parallel with the "U Drive. U Text. U Pay" campaign and crackdown.
In 2019, 3,142 people were killed by distracted drivers - and these were all avoidable deaths. Illustrating the menace of cell phone use while driving, the NHTSA says that by 2017, cell phone use already made up 14% of America's distracted driving accidents.
Not necessarily, unless it causes a dangerous situation with cars having to brake hard or swerve to avoid you. In such a case, cutting someone off could be judged as being negligent driving in the first or second degree - an illegal act and subject to a fine. "Negligent" here refers to the driver's failure to exercise ordinary care, which means neglecting to do something a reasonably careful person would have done under the circumstances.
Each state has its own legislation but states have been moving to get rid of the use of cell phones while driving altogether. As of April 2020, 24 US states, several US territories, and the District of Columbia have passed laws that ban talking on a handheld cell phone while driving.