Nearly every driver is guilty of some form of distracted driving on the roads. In fact, you’ve probably seen a few of them driving nearby when you’re on the road, from people chatting on cell phones to DJing with their iPod through the car stereo, putting makeup on, or eating a full meal behind the wheel.
Although not every form of distracted driving is illegal, it’s good motoring practice to try and avoid being distracted at any point when behind the wheel because in some cases, taking your eyes off the road for just a couple of seconds could have terrible consequences. Here are some ideas to keep in mind to help you avoid being distracted while driving and be safer on the road.
Only Use Your Cell Phone for Emergency Situations:
Not only is it becoming increasingly illegal to use your phone behind the wheel, but it’s also highly dangerous and one of the easiest ways to take your eyes and your attention off the road. According to Michle Mirman, a car accident lawyer in New York, “While you’re driving, a cell phone should only be used for emergency purposes and even then, you should always pull over safely to make a call unless it’s absolutely impossible.”
If you need to use your phone as a GPS, have a handsfree mount on your dashboard and set the directions before you start driving, so that you don’t have to use it on your journey. Avoid making social calls when driving; even chatting with a friend on a hands-free device can take your attention from the road and cause you to miss important cues needed to avoid a collision.
Don’t Drive When Drowsy:
Drowsiness behind the wheel increases the risk of a crash by almost four times. A study by the government found that a huge 37% of drivers in the U.S. have accidentally fallen asleep at the wheel at least once during the time that they have been driving. If you feel tired when driving, it’s always better to pull off the road and take a quick nap rather than trying to get home faster. If you feel tired before you get in your car, it’s best to avoid driving altogether and get a ride or take public transport instead.
Limit Your Passengers:
A full car can easily become a distraction, especially if there’s a lot of noise and activity going on in the car. In fact, most states prohibit new teen drivers from having passengers in the car with them during their first few months of driving solo purely because of how dangerous it can be. Novice drivers, in particular, tend to be more focused on their friends than on the road, but people in your car can cause a distraction no matter how long you’ve been driving.
Avoid Eating and Driving:
Grabbing breakfast while you drive into work might seem like an ideal way to save time in the morning, but when you’re trying to eat and drive at the same time, not only are your hands full but you’re also less attentive to the drivers around you. And if food accidentally spills down you or into your car, this can become a major cause of distraction. Instead, if you really need to stop at the drive-thru and grab a bite to eat, give yourself enough time to park up safely and enjoy your food before setting off again.
Don’t Multi-Task Behind the Wheel:
Everyone spends a lot of time in their cars these days and when you’re stuck in traffic, it can often seem like the perfect time to get all those little things done like applying your makeup, calling friends, finding a good playlist, or even replying to a text message. But even if you’re stuck in stationary traffic, resist the urge to multitask when driving your car. Get everything settled before you start driving so that you can focus on the road and the other drivers around you. Even though sitting in heavy traffic might be boring, it’s also a prime time for collisions due to the number of cars in close proximity to each other. So, it’s best to avoid taking your eyes off the road even if you’re not moving very fast.
According to science, people are limited in the amount of information that they can process at any one time. Since there are multiple demands required of you when driving, people are forced to shift their attention back and forth. Eliminating distractions means that you can focus more on the important stuff and stay safe.