Tips to Reduce Distractions While Driving
Everyone recognize April as the Distracted Driving Awareness month. Explained simply, distracted driving is conducting multiple tasks behind the wheel of a vehicle. On the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) website, it defines distracted driving as non-driving activities that an individual engages in while operating a motor vehicle. More often than not, distracted driving can lead to an auto accident.
There are three types of distractions while driving:
- Cognitive – A person taking his mind off of what he/she is doing
- Manual – A person taking his hands off the wheel
- Visual – A person taking his eyes off the road
For the month of April, many organizations have increased emphasis and have responded to the demand of advocating safe, distraction-free driving. With mobile devices being such a huge influence in our lives, many drivers can’t seem to put them aside while driving and aren’t always cognitive of how the safety of not only themselves, but other drivers and pedestrians along roads, is greatly reduced. Organizations like Distraction.gov and Focus Driven have increased awareness for how potentially life threatening a single text or shift of attention from the road to a device can be.
While texting while driving may be an increased occurrence as our reliance on technology has evolved, it’s not the only distraction there is. The following are several guidelines that can be used to reduce distractions of all varieties while operating a motor vehicle:
Set All Essential Controls
Before backing out of the parking spot or putting the car into Drive, ensure that all essential controls and settings are in place. Little things like turning on your music or selecting a playlist, climate controls, seat positioning, and turning on your GPS if you’re using it can all be taken care of before you hit the road to reduce distractions.
Evaluate the Route
When driving to an unfamiliar destination, assess the directions and study the route before you head out. If you can keep turn on voice-enabled navigation, this would be an ideal way to use your GPS while keeping both hands on the wheel. Or having a reliable passenger to read out directions and take away distractions of mapping so you can keep your eyes on the road would also be most helpful.
Secure Any Pets
If pets are in the vehicle, keep them out of harm’s way. Letting your furry friend run around the vehicle, up on your lap, or in between you and the wheel is not a safe option for yourself or your pet in case of an accident. Think about airbags if they needed to be deployed or their heads sticking out the driver side window, interfering with your view of the road or grip on the wheel. Put them in a well-ventilated carrier or crate and secure them in the hatchback or backseat. That way, there will be no room for distractions while the car is in motion and you and your pet can enjoy a safe commute to your destination.
Manage Time Properly
Rushing usually promotes road rage, distraction, unnecessary threats, and often makes room for mistakes when you’re doing everything with haste. It is advisable to leave well in advance in order to arrive at the destination stress and accident-free. Not only do you want to leave at a reasonable time, but it’s better to be completely ready to take on the day upon walking out the door to your car as well. Avoid shaving, putting on makeup or adjusting your look for the day while driving. It is safer and easier to get everything done at home before you leave or once you’re parked and at your destination.
Drive Thru and Pull Over
If a person needs to grab food at a drive-thru, it is recommended that they take the time to pull over and enjoy their meal or just wait until they get to their destination to dig in and satisfy their hunger. During this time, reading the paper, checking messages, or return some calls can all be taken care of as well. Eating on the road can not only be distracting, but unexpected messes can occur and you don’t need another thing to worry about on top of finishing your food while driving and trying to pay attention to the road at the same time.
An adult passenger normally helps a lot in being aware of various driving situations. According to the National Safety Council, a buddy system by having an attentive passenger can decrease the risk of an auto accident immensely. Nevertheless, always stick with light conversation subjects, as a heated discussion can typically pull one’s attention away from the road.
Put the Cellphone Away
Cellphones can be a huge distraction while driving as we discussed earlier. It is advisable to put it out of reach while driving to a chosen destination and save all the calls for later. A driver’s full attention is needed when on the road, especially in bad weather or heavy traffic. Always consider the safety of others on the road before picking up the phone to send a text or check your phone. Whatever it is, ask oneself, “Can it wait? Does this truly need an immediate response?” The answer should be that it can always wait when it comes to preserving lives and minding the safety of others.
At times, the mind tends to wander, particularly if there is a problem at home or work or other areas of one’s personal life. If this happens while driving, pull over for a while. If it is a long drive, take breaks in between to rest your eyes and take a step outside to get some fresh air and stretch out the legs.
People tend to encounter various other factors vying for their attention while they are driving. The key is to prioritize and ask if it is worth the risk to take the focus away from driving to check phone messages or to perform other tasks. Always keep in mind that no auto accident is a pleasant experience for any party involved. At the law offices of Darwin Johnson, we see automobile accidents of all types. Too many times do we see cases where if the driver simply hadn’t been distracted as they were, the accident could have been avoidable in the first place. We’re here to offer ways to receive the compensation you deserve in an auto accident if it’s another party that’s at fault, but we want all of our clients and drivers to be safe on the roads of Atlanta. So we observe the month of April for distraction-free driving and we hope you can join us as well by practicing these tips and driving safely to your destination.