Spring Break Tips: Avoiding Distractions While Driving May Save Your Life

Driving Distractions - texting and driving

One of the most common dangers on the road is not what you may expect. Distracted drivers are more and more prevalent these days, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices and other items that can impact a person’s ability to pay attention to the road. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 424,000 people were involved in a collision because of a distracted driver. Even worse, about 10% of all traffic fatalities were directly related to this problem, meaning that it’s more important than ever to ensure that you’re not one of those statistics. 

The Department of Transportation classifies distractions into three categories. 

  • Visual – your eyes are not on the road
  • Manual – your hands are not on the wheel
  • Cognitive – you’re not paying attention 

Fortunately, we have some tips that may help you stay safe while out driving so that you don’t get involved in a crash or a fatal accident. 

Don’t Use Your Phone!

All too often, people think that they can answer a phone call or a text while driving. Even if you’ve done it before, the risk is too high. All it takes is one second, and you could put your life in danger. 

Don’t Eat and Drive!

If your hands are full of food, then they’re not on the wheel. Yes, eating on the go is part of modern life, but pull over and do it safely. 

Don’t Program Your GPS While Moving!

Input your directions before you head out so that you’re not doing it while driving. 

Don’t Get Involved in Road Rage!

If you find yourself getting angry at other drivers, find a method of relaxation to help you calm down. It’s not worth your life. 

Overall, you should be focusing on one thing – driving. If you’re distracted, all it takes is one time to change your whole life. Don’t become a statistic. 

Avoid Deadly Distractions Behind the Wheel

Avoid Deadly Distractions Behind the Wheel

Many people have a limited definition of “distracted driving”: They think it only means texting behind the wheel.

There’s good reason for that, because texting requires visual, manual and cognitive attention – the same attention required for safe driving. But although texting is perhaps the most dangerous distraction, there are many others that can impact how you drive, whether you realize it or not. And they can be just as deadly.

How deadly? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2015 more than 390,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers – with more than 3,200 killed. (Distracted Driving 2016 stats: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812517)

Here are just a few of the things that can distract drivers on the road:

  • Talking on the phone, even with a hands-free device.
  • Eating or drinking.
  • Talking to passengers.
  • Grooming (yes, there really are people who apply makeup or shave on their way to work).
  • Reading, including maps.
  • Adjusting the stereo.

Younger drivers are the most distracted of all – according to the government’s distraction.gov  website, people in their 20s make up 38% of drivers who were using cell phones before a fatal crash, and 10% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted, too.

With distractions more prevalent than ever (more than 150 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. every month), how can you, and those you love, be safer behind the wheel? Here are a few tips:

Don’t use the phone: This includes texting as well as talking, unless it’s an emergency. Even hands-free conversations can take your attention off the road.

Eat before you leave, or after you get there: Scarfing down that burger with one hand on the wheel means your focus is divided – and you probably don’t have as much control over your car as you should. Bonus benefit: Keeping your meals and your driving separate means you’re much less likely to get ketchup on your pants.

Know where you’re going: Nobody likes to be lost. But messing around with your car’s GPS (or the maps app on your smartphone) while you’re moving can lead to something you’ll hate even more – an accident.

Talk to your family about safe driving: Having a conversation with your spouse as they’re driving home? That’s a perfect opportunity to say, “I’ll let you focus on the road; we can talk when you get here.” And if you have young drivers in the household, be sure to have a conversation about their phones and other potential issues, such as their passengers – a key distraction for teens.

Watch for other distracted drivers: Just because you aren’t distracted doesn’t mean that other drivers are focused on safe driving. Stay in control and be vigilant – you’ll be ready to react when someone else makes the wrong move.

Distracted driving isn’t just “one of those things” that happens, like a tire blowout or mechanical failure that isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s 100% preventable – and by committing to avoiding distractions while you drive, you’ll help make the road safer for everyone.

Driving Distracted May Mean More Than You Think

Reaching in the back seat while driving

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!