Distracted driving is a major cause of deadly car accidents each year. It’s not surprising that texting is considered a distraction. Texting requires visual, manual and cognitive attention just the same as driving. While texting and touching your smartphone may be the most dangerous distraction, many others can impact you safely driving. Even simple tasks like changing the music volume can hinder your undivided attention. Learning how to avoid distractions while driving will help you be a safer driver.
In addition to texting here are common distractions to drivers:
- Talking on the phone, even with a hands-free device
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Grooming – applying makeup or shaving (yes, many commuters actually do this!)
- Reading, even maps
- Adjusting music
Younger drivers are notoriously the most distracted but no matter your age, it is important to take steps to prevent distractions while behind the wheel. Even before you start your engine, you should consider potential distractions, making you less likely to find yourself in a compromising situation. Here are a couple of tips to make your drive safer:
- GPS – Know where you are going before you leave. Nobody likes to get lost, so it’s important to make sure that your GPS is set up and programmed properly so that you can see it easily without taking your eyes off the road. This way you won’t have to look down to find your directions or make sure that you are turning on the right street. If your GPS is on your phone, as it is for the majority of drivers, make sure your phone is mounted in a place where you can easily see it.
- Talking on the Phone – Even if you are using a hands-free device, talking on the phone is better left to times that you are not behind the wheel as the phone conversation can take your attention away from your driving. So if you can, wait to make that call at your destination.
- Texting – As has been mentioned, texting, or any sort of typing, is extremely distracting and has been the cause of many fatal car accidents. Make sure that you are finished with any text messages before you set up. What if you have a pushy boss? Send out a message prior or turn on an automatic reply, which states that you are now driving and will return any messages as soon as it is safely possible.
- Personal Grooming – You might be running late, but leave personal grooming at home. Taking the extra moments to make sure that you are prepared to drive can be the difference between a pleasant journey and one that ends in disaster.
- Eating – It is best to eat before you leave or after you get to your destination. Scarfing down your meal with one hand on the wheel means you cannot focus completely. If you do need to eat or drink while on the road, do it smartly. Don’t eat a large meal or a messy snack. Pack a light bite to eat such as rice cakes, granola bars, or pretzels and save the meals for when you stop.
- Children – If you are planning on traveling with children, you probably already know how demanding of attention they can be. Make sure your young passengers are sufficiently prepared for the trip before leaving with snacks, drinks and activities. Babies should be fed beforehand and if they do fuss or cry, it is important to remember you as the driver cannot physically sooth them. If you have older children, talk to them about safe driving. Having a conversation about what constitutes safe driving before getting on the road, will help ensure they do not distract you.
- Passengers – Passenger distraction extends to adults too. Make sure that everyone in the car is prepared to help you drive safely.
- Other Drivers – Just because you have taken the steps to not be a distracted driver does not mean that other drivers on the road have prioritized safety. Make sure to watch for other distracted drivers, stay in control and be vigilant so that you are ready to react if you encounter a distracted driver on the road.
On the Go
There are some situations which you cannot prepare for ahead of time. What if while you are driving, there is a car accident on the other side of the road? It may be instinctual to slow down and check it out, which creates -unnecessary traffic “rubbernecking”. This distraction can cause more accidents. While, it’s normal to want to see what happened at the site of an accident, this is the time it is imperative to keep your eyes on the road and continue to drive normally, if not slightly more cautiously since you can expect other drivers to also be distracted by the accident.
Daydreaming can also be a cause of concern while on the road. For drivers who take the same routes every day or who have particularly long commute times, it may be easy to become distracted in your thoughts. There are many techniques for keeping yourself present and alert so you don’t drift off, forgetting about the road and the speedometer. Making sure to move your eyes around every few seconds can sometimes be enough to avoid road hypnosis. Singing along with the music or naming car models you see can also keep you from becoming distracted.
Staying safe in the car starts with you. Although it is impossible to eliminate all driving distractions, distracted driving isn’t just one of those things that happens like mechanical failure or a nail in your tire. At Goldfus Insurance, we are committed to promoting safe driving. Contact us today to learn more about making the road safer for everyone and having the right car insurance when necessary.