Written By: Joseph Cescon
According to CAA, distracted driving is a factor in approximately 4 million car accidents in North America every year. Unfortunately, with new, exciting technology being created all the time, these numbers continue to rise. With smartphones, GPS devices, elaborate music systems and screen displays in cars, it is very easy to get distracted. Other distractions, such as eating, drinking, talking and reading, are just as tempting. However, because texting requires manual, visual and cognitive attention, it is arguably one of the most alarming distractions of all. The most shocking thing is that accidents caused by distracted driving are easily preventable, which is why it is time to get educated on how to be responsible on the road.
1. Get Comfortable First
Before you even put your car in drive, make sure that you’re comfortable. Remove your jacket if, take a sip of water if you feel dehydrated, adjust your mirrors, select a radio station and readjust your position until you are comfortable. Then, and only then, you should actually start driving to your destination.
2. Keep Your Cell Phone out of Sight
Cell phones are one of the most common distractions for drivers. In fact, drivers engaged in messaging on their phone are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. Your phone should be kept out of sight in order to deter any temptation to look at it. You can put it in the glove compartment, keep it in your purse, or in any other place where you are not able to use or see it. It is also helpful to keep your phone on silent mode at all times while in the car.
Not only is your phone a distraction, but using it while behind the wheel can also result in a large fine if you are caught by the police. In Ontario it is illegal to operate hand held communication and electronic entertainment devices, and also to look at any screens that are unrelated to your driving. Avoid trouble altogether by simply putting your phone out of sight, and even turning it on silent to further prevent any distractions.
3. Eat Before Hand
Driving while juggling food is never a good idea. Keeping your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and attention on driving is nearly impossible when eating on the go. It’s a recipe for disaster. Get in the habit of eating before you go anywhere. If you feel hunger coming on and can’t resist, consider stopping for a sit-down meal.
4. Do Not Pick Up Fallen Items in your Car
Another serious and dangerous distraction is attempting to pick up a fallen object while driving. Regardless of what the item is, chances are, it can wait until you’re at your destination. Reaching for an object in your car requires you to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel, and subsequently results in you being 9 times more likely to be involved in a crash. The only case where it is acceptable to try and pick up or move a fallen object is the item has the potential to roll under your brakes.
5. Get Ready At Home
Unless your car is parked, it is not the place to fix your hair, makeup or anything related to grooming. In fact, drivers engaged in applying makeup are 3 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event. Instead, make sure you are ready to go before you leave the house, or that you fix your hair and makeup once the car is parked and you’ve arrived at your destination.
6. Plan your Route in Advance
GPS devices are a fantastic and helpful technology, but using them while driving can ultimately be a dangerous distraction. While driving somewhere unfamiliar, check the route online and familiarize yourself with street names, turns, and other basic directions so that you don’t have look at the screen. It will keep your eyes on the road, and not the screen waiting for directions.
7. Pull Over for your Kids
Sometimes, children decide to be loud and antsy while in the car. It can be tempting to turn around and hand your kids something to entertain themselves with or to try and calm them down. However, with children in the car, you should never risk any unsafe maneuvers. Instead, give them your full attention by pulling over whenever needed, or have snacks and games that are accessible to them in the backseat.
8. Secure your Pets
Pets can also create a distraction, especially those that are anxious or that aren’t a fan of the car. Train your furry companion to stay in the backseat, out of your sight. If this sounds completely unrealistic for your pet, you can also purchase a travel crate or animal car seat.
9. Inform your Passengers
Whether you’re carpooling with co-workers or taking a road trip with friends, inform them that you want to drive without distraction. Talk about anything that can potentially distract you while on the road, including music or loud conversations. This will ensure that both you and your passengers can get to your destination safely.
10. Focus on Driving
With big, flashy billboards, enticing storefronts, people walking up and down the street, it’s easy to get distracted and take your eyes off the road. However, make a conscious effort to focus on driving, instead of enjoying the sights around you.
It’s crucial to be alert when driving, and eliminating these distractions decrease the risk of you becoming distracted while on a road. By not becoming distracted on the road, you can avoid being the cause of a horrible car accident.