Distracted driving is dangerous driving. In 2014, 3,179 people lost their lives due to crashes involving distracted drivers. This trend must stop. We all know about the dangers of texting and driving, but that’s just one of many distractions that can happen on the road. Safe drivers must learn how to avoid distractions, so they can give their full attention to what is happening on the road in front of them. Here are some of the top driving distractions you need to be aware of, and some tips on how to avoid them.
1. Gaping at an Accident
Sure, you want to see the accident that you are passing and try to determine what caused it, but gaping or rubbernecking causes you to slow down and take your attention away from the road. Avoid looking at accidents, billboards, street signs or even a stunning view for long while driving. You don’t want to add another accident to the mix.
How many times have you had to turn around to deal with your children in the back seat? A recent survey from State Farm found that 40 percent of drivers attest to being distracted by their children, and an even higher number (53 percent) pointed to pets in the car as being a distraction. You can’t kick everyone out of your car, so take measures to ensure you are not the one who has to deal with problems. If something occurs that you must deal with, pull over and deal with it, then get back on the road. Educate your children to the fact that you can’t pass them things or retrieved dropped belongings while in the driver’s seat, and keep pets restrained with pet seat belts or a crate while traveling.
3. Eating and Drinking
Yes, it saves time to eat your lunch or breakfast in the car, but what happens when you spill a hot drink on your lap or find that the ketchup is dripping off of your burger onto your work suit? Not only will you be distracted if you eat and drink while driving, but you can also increase your risk of choking. A sudden slamming on the breaks while your mouth is full of food could be a fatal mistake.
4. Adjusting Controls in the Vehicle
Anything that takes your eyes off the road is a distraction, and that includes the controls in your car. Adjusting the seat, using the navigation system, adjusting the mirrors or changing the radio channel can all lead to severe accidents. In fact, adjusting controls in the vehicle account for 1 percent of fatal distractions. Yes, fiddling with your GPS could be a fatal mistake. So how can you avoid this? Try to make sure everything is set the way it should be before you leave, and then wait until you are at a stop light or pulled over safely to make adjustments. Also, learn where the buttons in your car are, so you can adjust them without taking your eyes off the road.
5. Cell Phones
You know you shouldn’t use y phone and drive, but that doesn’t always stop you. Even in those states where cell phone use has been banned, it still continues to be a problem. From changing the Pandora station to searching for an address and texting a friend, that little device is so tempting.
Using a cell phone increases your reaction time and increases the risk that you will swerve out of your lane of traffic. It also increases your mental workload while driving. All of this increases your risk of being in an accident. The average amount of time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. While this doesn’t seem long, five seconds at 55 mph is enough time to go the length of a football field. It’s simply too dangerous to fiddle with your phone while driving.
So what’s the solution? Pair your phone with your bluetooth, and then put it into a compartment where you can’t be tempted to touch it while driving. Your phone call or text can wait until you are safely stopped.
Looking over this list, you have likely found a distraction that you are guilty of. It’s impossible to remove all distractions from your vehicle, but you can take measures to be as safe as possible. Learn the risks here, and do what you can to avoid them so you can keep your eyes safely on the road.