Most drivers will readily acknowledge that having a phone in their hands is dangerous. Even those who think that they can personally text while driving without causing a crash still often believe it is dangerous for other people to do so.
Digital distractions are absolutely a safety concern for everyone on the modern roads. However, thinking that cell phone use is the only distraction you need to worry about might give you an inappropriate sense of security out on the roads.
In reality, texting while driving is so dangerous because it affects what you think about, what you look at and what you do with your hands. There are many other activities that fall into one of these three categories of possible distraction.
Things that take your hands off the wheel
Reaching for the radio controls, grabbing something out of your briefcase in the backseat or taking a sip of coffee will all slightly increase your reaction time if something unexpected happens.
People who have to readjust their grip on the steering wheel may not be able to respond in time to a child running in front of their vehicle or another car stopping short in front of them.
Things that take your eyes off the road
Drivers should constantly scan their surroundings for changing circumstances and signs of danger. Spotting a pothole before you hit it could be the difference between losing control of your vehicle and getting home safely.
Looking at your passengers while you have an intense conversation, trying to read a billboard or church sign or gawking at a crash over on the shoulder are all dangerous forms of visual distraction that could increase your reaction time and risk of a crash.
Things that take your focus away from the road
Internal distraction is perhaps the most insidious form of distraction, as it is very hard to avoid or prove unless someone admits it happened. Daydreaming, planning your route or rehashing a conversation that you just had with your spouse could all be forms of dangerous internal distraction that leaves someone at increased risk of causing a crash out on the road.
Recognizing the many different forms of distracted driving can help you reduce your risk of causing a crash and take the right steps if a distracted driver causes a wreck that affects you.