Distracted driving is a problem that results in injuries and claims the lives of thousands of people each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from driving. In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 injured in the United States as a result of distracted driving. Allstate says distracted driving is now the No. 1 risk on Canadian roads, contributing to eight in 10 collisions.
It is relatively easy to avoid becoming a statistic by reducing distractions behind the wheel.
Put away tech devices
One of the easiest ways to reduce distractions is to keep phones and tablets out of reach while driving. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says sending or reading a text message takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for about five seconds, or long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph. It removes a person’s attention from the road; takes his or her hands off of the wheel; and it mentally engages the brain when a driver’s focus should be on driving.
Devices should be stowed away when driving. Drivers should pull over if they need to send a text or read a message.
Set the GPS ahead of a trip
Global positioning systems have revolutionized the way motorists get to and from locations. They can help signal upcoming traffic and find the best routes possible. Just like other devices, GPS can be a distraction, especially if drivers are taking their eyes off the road and constantly pressing buttons on the map. Enter the destination address before departing and place the GPS in a position that it can be glanced at, which will not impede vision. Better yet, let a passenger navigate.
Limit or skip phone calls
Many people find that making phone calls while on the road is an efficient use of time. Yet the personal injury experts at Lehmbecker Law say even when drivers use hands-free devices their brains can remain distracted for 27 seconds after using voice commands to dial a number. Engaging in phone conversations will continue to take drivers’ minds off of their driving responsibilities.
Drowsy driving is dangerous
Being tired can be a distraction as well. Geico insurance reports a U.S. government study showed that 37 percent of drivers have nodded off or actually fallen asleep at least once while driving. Drowsiness increases the risk of a crash by roughly four times. Those who become drowsy behind the wheel should pull over.
Consider skipping the infotainment package
New vehicle infotainment systems can take one’s attention off of the road for long periods of time. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers using in-vehicle technologies like voice-based and touch-screen features may find themselves unusually distracted.
In addition to these tips, drivers can reduce the number of passengers contributing to distractions, turn down the volume on the radio, and pull over when eating on the road. Reducing distractions can save lives.