How often do you get distracted on the road? Driving distractions aren’t just caused by cell phones, either. They can be caused by adjusting your radio station, helping your young child behind you or even eating while driving. This April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month so it is important to recognize what distracts you on the road and how to avoid it from happening.
While not every distracted driving accident is caused by cell phones, the National Safety Council has approximated that 1.6 million crashes each year are due to drivers talking or texting on cell phones while driving. This equates to 28% of all accidents. Cell phones are the biggest cause of car accidents so rethink making that call or sending that quick text.
To reduce the temptation to use your phone: set it on silent, put it in the glove box, or turn it off while driving. Pull over to make a call or send a text. Even hands-free talking is a distraction and not worth testing.
Adjusting Settings and Controls
Fiddling with the GPS, temperature, radio, or CD player can be distracting at the crucial moment when the road needs your attention. Before you pull out of park, set up your music and temperature. Set your route in your GPS or navigation device before you leave home.
Many people leave with just enough time to make it to their destination under ideal circumstances. It is rare to encounter perfect conditions on the road. Leave plenty of time so you won’t try to rush and make poor driving decisions.
Loose Items including Pets
Secure all items around the driver’s seat including cell phones, coffee cups, and other items that might fall on the floor or get under the driver’s feet. Many accidents occur when you lean over for that split second to grab the pen or phone that’s fallen to the floor. Pets should always be secured in a crate or safety harness. An excited pet may be a fatal distraction for both human or animal. Install a special mirror that allows you to see pets and children in the backseat without turning around.
Eating on the Go
If you eat while you drive, your attention will be divided. If you spill something, you will be further distracted as you attempt to clean it up. Hot beverages spilled while driving can be a painful distraction. Pull over to enjoy your meal or plan extra time to eat before you go.
It seems obvious that shaving, putting on make-up, or brushing your teeth while driving is a terrible idea. However, many Americans use their commute time to complete their daily grooming routine. Do not read the paper to catch up on the news or finish that enthralling novel either. When you are behind the wheel you have a duty to yourself, your passengers, and others on the road to make driving your only focus and priority.
Having too many people in the car can be a very distracting situation. No matter how much experience you have behind the wheel, limit socializing in the car. Keep conversations simple and easy-going. A dramatic discussion on a serious topic can take away the driver’s focus.
With a car accident occurring at least every 14 seconds, you can’t afford to ignore these common and distracting driving habits. Medical Center Arlington is here to offer more tips about preventative health care and safety. Visit us online to learn more about safe driving. If you need a physician referral, be sure to call us at 1-855-868-6262.