Manual Distractions and the Dangers of Multi-Tasking While Driving

Posted: April 19, 2021

Multi-tasking. We all do it. But there is one time you should never try to multi-task: when you are behind the wheel of a car. Your driving instructor probably told you “Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road!” Thanks to all the many manual distractions we face while driving, that saying is more relevant than ever. A manual distraction is anything that causes the driver to take their hands off the wheel for any amount of time. According to DMV.com a manual distraction can even count when you take one hand off the wheel.

With so many technological modifications we can make to our driving experience – adjusting mirrors, changing the playlist, receiving notifications on a cell phone, fine-tuning the temperature – it is easy to forget each one of these actions takes your hand off the wheel (and also takes your eyes off the road, creating a visual distraction)

Many people think that distracted driving is strictly cell phone use, but that is not the case. Examples of other manual distractions include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Turning knobs in the car
  • Tending to a child
  • Searching through a purse or wallet

Think back through your time in the car this week – how many times did you take a turn one-handed as you sipped your morning coffee? How many times did you text someone or check your social media accounts? How many times did you use your knee to keep the car in line as you put your hair up or reached for something in the passenger seat? Not sure?? You are not alone – typically drivers are unaware of these everyday gestures that they mindlessly partake in. According to CDOT, 42 crashes happen each day in Colorado due to distracted driving. If we want to change the statistics of distracted-driving related collisions, we must shift the social norm by encouraging drivers to stay focused on the road ahead of them.

Here are six tips to avoid manual distractions:

  • Have your GPS directions pre-programmed before you start your drive
  • Turn off your cellphone or challenge yourself to not pick it up – it really can wait!
  • If you absolutely need to make a call, use a hands-free device or better yet, pull over to a safe location
  • Pull over to a safe location to reach into a bag or comfort a crying child
  • Enjoy your beverage or snack once you reach your destination
  • Plan ahead! Running late is one of the top reasons people multi-task while driving

Using these tips can minimize the possibility of you causing a collision. Next time you drive, make your driving instructor proud and keep both hands on the wheel.