It’s common for people to automatically think of mobile phone use when discussing distracted driving. There is little question that sending text messages, dialing a phone or posting a video to social media while driving is dangerous.
It is also the only form of driving-related distraction that South Dakota currently criminalizes. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor to use a phone while driving for anything other than hands-free calls, emergency calls and GPS navigation.
However, phones are far from the only source of distraction that causes crashes. Here are some of the other most common distractions that affect motorist and passenger safety.
Children and other passengers
Kids are incredibly distracting for their parents and other chauffeurs. From starting arguments with one another to kicking seats, there are many ways that they can subvert someone’s attempts to focus on the road in front of them.
Older, more mature passengers can also be a source of distraction when they have a conversation with the driver. Any conversation, including a hands-free discussion over the phone, is a distraction that might increase someone’s risk of a wreck.
Food and beverages
Given that your vehicle comes with built-in cup holders, you probably think there’s no real risk involved in sipping a coffee on your way to work or even having a snack while driving in the mid-afternoon. However, eating and drinking while driving will force you to take at least one hand off of the wheel and will reduce your mental focus as well.
Built-in screens and GPS devices
If you have a newer vehicle, there may be a touch screen in the dashboard where you can adjust the radio or the cabin climate controls. You might also have a freestanding GPS device attached to your dashboard or an app on your phone. Looking at those screens and taking a hand off of the wheel to interact with them is as dangerous as interacting with any other device while driving.
Those who broaden their personal definition of distracted driving will be less likely to routinely engage in unsafe behaviors that increase their risk. Learning more about the top causes of major motor vehicle collisions can protect South Dakota drivers and passengers alike.