While commuting, you notice the driver to your left is texting, the driver on the right is blasting music, and the driver behind you is yelling at their children in the backseat. The pedestrian crossing the street has their hand parallel to their face while they talk into a phone that has a reflected image of themselves. The light turns green as you ease into the intersection, chuckling at the irony of being distracted by distracted drivers. Distracted driving increases your risk for a car crash. Insurance.com has conducted a study that shows that distracted driving is worse now than it’s ever been in the last two years. Below is a list of tips to eliminate distractions for a safer drive.
Check your emotional, mental, and physical state.
How are you feeling? Are you tired? Are you angry, upset, or stressed? These are great questions to ask before jumping on the road as they are all significant distractions that can lead to dangerous driving practices and accidents. Driving while you’re tired or fatigued can be equivalent to driving under the influence. Plus, driving while you’re already angry makes you more likely to engage in road rage, take more risk, and be hostile towards other drivers. We’re not always able to delay a road trip, but checking in with yourself only takes a few minutes. Taking a nap, venting to a friend, or eating a quick snack before hopping on the road can be a small step that makes a big difference.
Prepare for your trip before you start driving.
Leave the lipstick touch-ups for the bathroom and finishing dressing while you’re at home. Make sure all baggage and possessions are placed securely, so you aren’t tempted to grab an item that falls. Have your GPS pre-programmed for your destination, and if you need to change anything, pull over.
Keep your focus on the road.
The most obvious advice is still applicable, do not text and drive. Additionally, if you must take a phone call, conduct the call through your vehicles built-in Bluetooth, if you have one. If there isn’t a built-in Bluetooth feature, it’s best to pull over and safely park the car before having a phone conversation. Try to listen to entertainment at a level that doesn’t burst your eardrums, as loud music may cause you to miss cues from other drivers or emergency vehicles. Lastly, try not to be too distracted to what’s happening outside of the road you’re on and other drivers. If there’s an accident, it’s okay to check out the scene but not stare for too long and lose focus.
Distracted driving is any activity or object that causes you to take your hands off the steering wheel or attention off the road. Distracted driving will always increase your risk of an accident or severe injury. Make safe driving practices a priority before you get on the road. With a combination of self-care techniques, preparation, and focus, you can decrease any harmful risk for you, your passengers, and other drivers.