According to the CDC, crashes that involve a distracted driver kill about eight people in the US every day.
What is distracted driving? It’s driving while engaged in another activity that takes your attention away from driving. Anything that takes your eyes off the road (visual), hands off the wheel (manual), or your mind off driving (cognitive) are all distractions. The consequences are severe, with over 400,000 injuries and 2,800 deaths in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018.
The biggest culprit? If you guessed cell phones, you’re correct. Looking at your phone for only five seconds at 55 miles per hour is like driving the length of a football field practically blindfolded.
What can we do to prevent distractions from disturbing our driving? Below are some helpful tips.
Limit Phone Use to Emergencies
We know what you’re going to say. These days, how can you expect anyone to ignore their phones for a considerable amount of time when we depend on our phones for almost everything. But think about it this way, one hour off the phone won’t kill you, but five seconds on the phone while driving can.
How about “hands-free”? Sorry, but that’s also a no-go. According to a study, hands-free is just as distracting as handheld cell phone use while driving.
The best way to avoid a car accident injury is to pull over if you absolutely need to use your phone.
Eating Is One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Distracted Driving
Eating while driving may be even riskier than talking on your phone. Imagine what would happen if the food or drink spills on you while behind the wheel. Chaos ensues, and that will likely lead to disaster.
Eating that burrito isn’t worth the price of paying for the damages and costs of a car accident lawsuit (more information here).
Also, while eating, you’re taking at least one hand off the wheel. With only one hand, you can’t maneuver your car fast enough if something unexpected on the road pops up.
Don’t Groom and Drive
Grooming is another common activity that can lead to trouble while driving. There’s a belief going around that women are better at multitasking than men. So does that mean that women can pull off putting on makeup while driving?
No, because multitasking is a myth, and humans (both men and women) are generally bad at multitasking. Multiple activities overload the brain and will impair your ability to drive well. So please, don’t put on makeup, shave, or brush your hair while on the driver’s seat.
Limit Passenger Activity While Driving
Unfortunately, your friends, children, or pets in the car with you are also sources of distraction. While it’s fun to engage in conversation or participate in games or other activities, you should only focus on driving.
Children or pets may call your attention if they’re hungry or for other needs. It’s best to let them understand that you can’t do anything for them while you’re driving. Again, you can pull over the side to address their needs if necessary.
Keep Focused on the Task at Hand
The best way to avoid distracted driving is to keep your eyes, hand, and mind focused on driving. Distractions happen from time to time, and that’s normal. If you can limit these distractions, you have a good chance of arriving at your destination unscathed.
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