Determining the worst driver distractions
Driving is a part of everyday life for most Americans. It's so mundane that we rarely think of the potential danger that exists around every bend in the road. Car insurance companies are aware of those risks and price their policies accordingly.
But there are dangers not only on the road -- they're also inside the vehicle, as illustrated by a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
It looked at a number of activities and how likely they are to cause "cognitive distraction" -- in other words, a tendency for a driver's mind to wander. Bruce Hamilton, the AAA foundation's research manager, says testing revealed that some in-vehicle distractions have little impact on a driver's ability to focus on the road, while others present a bigger danger.
In addition, some technological innovations designed to make driving safer may fail to do so, he says.
"Hands-free doesn't mean risk-free, and this is the best evidence to date that shows that," Hamilton says.
Following are some of the distractions AAA examined, and how they rank on the danger scale.