The leading cause of accidents isn’t drunk driving, it’s distracted driving. Reducing driving distractions can better ensure we get from point A to point B safely.
There are three types of distractions: manual, visual, and cognitive. A manual distraction is one in which your hand or hands leave the wheel, such as messing with controls or the radio. A visual distraction is one in which your eyes leave the road, like when looking a GPS. A cognitive distraction is when your mind wanders or becomes disengaged from the activity at hand, like what happens when you daydream.
Here are a few tips to help you nip distracted driving in the bud.
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Set Up Before Rolling Out
Rather than distractedly scrolling through your playlist or punching buttons on your GPS while you cruise down the road, choose your music and set your route before moving into drive. Take a look at the map to see if any confusing junctures are en route and ensure the sound is turned up so you don’t have to fiddle with it later.
If you must take a call during your drive, do so hands-free. Either hit the speaker button and set your phone down or enable a bluetooth device, whether it be an earpiece or an integrate stereo in your vehicle.
Test Out Features in Park
Have a cool touchscreen system in your vehicle? Not sure where your cruise control is? Know you can get your car to recognize your phone but not quite sure how? Figure it out while in park. Don’t explore car features while you’re on the road. If you’re driving a new-to-you car like a rental, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the controls before heading out. Get yourself set up appropriated (mirrors, seat position, etc.) and find the important controls (lights, defrost, windshield wipers, etc.) before hitting the road.
Hold Off on the Latte
This may be the hardest thing on the list, especially if you’re a caffeine junky, but getting your java fix while driving to work isn’t the best idea. Coffee and fast food take our focus off the road. Juggling a burger in one hand and the steering wheel in the other is dangerous. And what if you spill? Don’t set yourself up for disaster. Enjoy your espresso once you reach your destination. Same goes for those fries. If you can’t wait, park and eat.
Never Text and Drive
There is no text that is worth someone’s life. Commit to leaving your phone out of reach while driving or silence notifications if need be. Some people suggest putting your phone in airplane mode, but this isn’t a viable solution for everyone as it can leave you unreachable in case of an emergency. Figure out what method will work for you and commit to staying off the phone while you drive.
Once you’ve decided to ignore your phone, you’ll be surprised at just how many other people are glancing at their phones while on the road. And you won’t only see them at stoplights. Drivers on the highway are often a glow in a phone screen light and a quick glance at the person in the lane next to you—the one that’s getting just a little too close for comfort—will likely show their phone is in their hand. Drivers distracted by their phones are the worst drivers. Not only are their hands off the wheel, their eyes and their mind are off the road.
Distracted driving leads to accidents, there’s no doubt about it. Most automobile accidents can be avoided. The fewer distractions we allow ourselves to fall prey to, the safer we will all be. Which distraction are you going to nix first?