Distracted driving is one of the most common issues we find on the road today. Most of us get distracted, but this needs to be minimized.
We also likely know someone who was in an accident with a driver that was distracted by their phone, food, drink, children, or pets. Yes, all of these people, animals, and things can distract us from the job at hand. That job is to navigate a vehicle weighing more than 2,000 pounds down a road with other drivers that might be distracted. This should be enough to make anyone pay attention, but that’s not always the case.
Here are some tips you can use to minimize the distractions you have when you’re behind the wheel.
Use Your Cell Phone Only For Emergencies and When Stopped
The technology we have today keeps us connected in a way our grandparents never would have dreamed, but that’s not always a good thing. Look over at other drivers when you’re stopped at a light. Are they on the phone, scrolling through screens, or texting? Do you think this stops when they start going again? Use your phone only in emergency situations when driving and stop before using it. Make sure you use the connectivity features of your car; these can be a big help.
Focus on Driving
It sounds simple and like something we shouldn’t have to say, but you need to focus on what you’re doing. When you’re dancing along to the music, reaching over for the next Frenchfry, or taking a sip of coffee, you’re not paying attention to the road ahead. Keep your eyes on the road, scan your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists to avoid distracted driving.
Don’t Search for Items While Driving, or at Stop Lights
If your purse falls over and everything spills out of it, where are those items? They are securely inside your vehicle because you didn’t stop driving to dump them out the door. You don’t need to pick them up while you’re driving or at a light. Leave them be, wait until you’re safely parked, and then pick up the items that fell out. You don’t need them while you’re behind the wheel, it’s not a big deal if those items are on the floor for a few minutes.
Don’t Multi-Task While Driving, Just Drive
Even if you’re connected to the infotainment system, you shouldn’t be the one to adjust it or take on tasks while driving. You should never text and drive, video chat and drive, post on social media and drive, or anything else that could end with “and drive.” Just drive. If you’re not sure where you’re going, listen to your navigation system to tell you where to turn, but don’t try to adjust this system or do anything else so that you can avoid distracted driving.
Make Your Pets Safer During Your Drive
Use a harness and a pet safety belt to strap your furry friend into the rear seat of the vehicle when driving. We might like to have our dogs in the passenger seat, but that’s not safe for them or for you. If you want to roll down the rear window for your dog, go ahead, but make sure they have a safety belt attached to a strong harness. This could save their life in an accident.
Pull Over When Eating
The invention of the drive-thru window is a blessing and a curse. If you’re disciplined enough to bring your food home without eating it while driving, this can be a blessing, but most of us do something differently. We often use these windows to get our food fast and continue driving while eating. This is a terrible distraction, especially if you suddenly spill your drink or get ketchup on your favorite shirt. Avoid the distracted driving scenario of eating while driving.
Being Drowsy is a Form of Distracted Driving
The more your head nods, the harder it is for you to stay awake while driving. The worst situation would be to actually fall asleep, but just being drowsy can be a serious problem. If you begin to feel tired or your car shows you that cup of coffee icon, you need to pull off to the side of the road and take a nap, a walk, or drink a cup of coffee. It’s better to arrive late than to never arrive at all.
Limit the Number of Passengers to the Number of Seatbelts
Even experienced adults can be distracted by multiple passengers in the vehicle with them. Too often, a parent tries to take care of a crying child while behind the wheel simply because they don’t have anyone else to help them. The few minutes you might save doing this isn’t worth the risk. Pull off to the side of the road to take care of the child. Young drivers should limit the number of passengers in a car until they gain more experience behind the wheel.
Adjust Everything Before Putting the Car in Drive
Get situated inside the vehicle and adjust everything you need to before you head out. This includes setting your music, your GPS coordinates, and the mirrors you use when driving. This is a great way to avoid distracted driving when out on the road. If you want to make changes to the music, wait until you are at a stoplight and then do so quickly. If you can’t do that, pull over, change what you need to, and then continue onward with your drive.
Put Your Shaver and Makeup Away
How many times have you seen men shaving their beards and women applying makeup while in rush hour traffic? This seems to happen way too often. If you don’t have time to do these things while at home before heading out, don’t do them at all. You’ll simply need to wake up a few minutes earlier tomorrow so you have time for all your morning activities. When you groom yourself while driving, you’re distracted and could cause an accident.
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