Driving Distracted May Mean More Than You Think

We most often hear that texting and driving being distracted driving, but it is far more.  Do you realize that distracted driving has been happening for decades?

Most people don’t think about switching music being a distraction.  In the 1970’s it was changing 8-tracks; in the 80’s it was changing cassettes; in the 90’s, it was changing CDs; and now, it is scrolling through music on your phone or mp3 player.  Throughout the whole time, changing the radio station can be a distraction.  Music and texting are not the only ones either.

What is Distracted Driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”  For example, the average text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds.  If you are driving 55mpg, “that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Do you want to drive safely? Driving needs your full attention.

There are three primary types of distraction:

  • Visual– taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive – taking your mind off the task of driving.

Examples include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a phone
  • Eating or Drinking
  • Shaving or Applying Makeup
  • Reading
  • Using a GPS
  • Adjusting your music (such as changing the radio station, inserting a CD, or scrolling for music on your MP3 player)

For many people, driving is the most dangerous daily activity.  That’s why it is important to pay close attention at all times when you’re behind the wheel.

Small Changes to Make a Difference

Here are some ways that you can be sure to stay attentive when you are driving.

  1. Turn off the phone while in the car or use your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature.
  2. If you have you receive a phone call while driving, pull over to answer the call or, if there is a passenger, ask them to answer for you.
  3. It’s better to not send text messages while driving.  If you must, pull over to send text messages.
  4. Know how to use your car’s features.  Be able to turn on your wipers, heat, air conditioning and other equipment without taking your eyes off the road.  If you get a new car, park and practice finding using your features with your eyes closed.
  5. When using a GPS, enter the address or location coordinates before starting your trip.  During the trip, if you need to enter information, pull over and stop to do so.  Also, keep the audio turn-by-turn directions are on and easy to hear.
  6. If you get upset, frustrated or angry before driving, take a few minutes to regain your focus and composure prior to getting on the road.
  7. If you need to address back seat situations with children, stop at a safe location.  Never drive while looking or reaching into at the back seat.
  8. Secure your pets. Do not let them roam free in the vehicle while driving.
  9. Get an adequate amount of sleep.  Avoid driving tired.
  10. Never drive with your knees.

Always remember, your safety is important to you, your family, your friends, and to Bob Johnson Insurance!

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