What Can You Do to Prevent Distracted Driving?
Some of these distractions can be difficult to avoid. After all, it’s not like someone is going to go on a four-hour road trip and not talk to their passengers because they could be a distraction. Instead, in situations such as this, it’s helpful to find ways to mitigate the impact of distractions.
- Eat first. One of the safest (and most affordable) ways to keep yourself from becoming a distracted driver is to manage non-driving tasks before you get on the road. Eating, drinking, programming your GPS, or assisting passengers can all be made safer if you perform these activities while parked.
- Let passengers help. Passengers can be distracting, which is one of the reasons why most states have passed graduated driver licensing laws that restrict teens from having passengers in the car during their first year of driving. However, letting your passengers help with tasks that could distract you —like answering the phone or adjusting the radio —can help you remain more focused on driving.
- Avoid conflict. When driving, it’s helpful to avoid emotionally charged conversations with your passenger so you can keep your attention on the road.
- Use steering wheel controls. Adjusting the AC or the radio can also pose a huge risk because it involves taking both eyes off the road and one hand off the wheel. Many auto manufacturers now add radio, climate and other controls to steering wheels as a less distracting option.
- Pull over to attend to children. If children are in the car, be sure to pull over to a safe spot before tending to their needs. Don’t turn to reach into the back seat while driving or at a stop light.
- Pull over to talk. Finally, if you must make or take a call, it’s best to pull to the side of the road first, even if your state doesn’t prohibit cell phone use while driving. Note that even hands-free technology, whether through a headset or the vehicle’s Bluetooth system, can still impair your ability to recognize and respond to something or someone on the road—even if you’re looking at it—because your attention is directed elsewhere. The safest option for you, your passengers, pedestrians, and those in other vehicles is to only use your phone when you’re not on the road.
Is Distraction Just a Young Driver’s Problem?
Experienced drivers often believe that they can manage distractions while driving better than novice drivers. But driver distraction is present among drivers of all ages. This might explain why drivers over the age of 21 are only slightly less likely to use mobile devices while driving compared to drivers under the age of 21, according to the IIHS-VTTI research.
Likewise, a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 72 percent of adults between 40-59 admitted to using their phone while driving—the same percentage of adults between 19-24 that reported doing so.
Don’t let the number of years you have behind the wheel lead you to believe that you’re immune to distraction while driving. Experience is no substitute for safe driving habits.
Be careful out there....
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