Do you engage in distracted driving behaviors? Distracted driving occurs anytime your attention is not focused on driving or the road ahead. Distractions can be cognitive, visual, or manual, but they all take away from your main responsibility when you’re behind the wheel that of driving safely.
Distracted driving is 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.
Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.
Using a cell phone while driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. In 2018 alone, 2,841 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
We can all play a part in the fight to save lives by ending distracted driving.
Teens can be the best messengers with their peers, so we encourage them to speak up when they see a friend driving while distracted, to have their friends sign a pledge to never drive distracted, to become involved in their local Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter, and to share messages on social media that remind their friends, family, and neighbors not to make the deadly choice to drive distracted.
Parents first have to lead by example — by never driving distracted — as well as have a talk with their young driver about distraction and all of the responsibilities that come with driving. Have everyone in the family sign the pledge to commit to distraction-free driving. Remind your teen driver that in states with graduated driver licensing (GDL), a violation of distracted-driving laws could mean a delayed or suspended license.
Educators and Employers
Educators and employers can play a part, too. Spread the word at your school or workplace about the dangers of distracted driving. Ask your students to commit to distraction-free driving or set a company policy on distracted driving.
Make Your Voice Heard
If you feel strongly about distracted driving, be a voice in your community by supporting local laws, speaking out at community meetings, and highlighting the dangers of distracted driving on social media and in your local op-ed pages.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are approximately 660,000 distracted drivers on the road every day during daylight hours. This creates a hazard not just for those drivers, but for every car around them as well as bikers and pedestrians on or along the roadway. So what can you do to cut down on this dangerous trend? Here are 10 tips to help you stay safe and focused on the road:
- Never use your phone while driving. You can turn your phone off, turn it upside down, or stow it away in your glove box or backseat to remove the temptation to answer notifications.
- Remember, hands-free phone calls can still create cognitive distractions. If you are having a conversation, you’re not fully focused on the road ahead. Calls can wait until you get safely to your office or home.
- Set your GPS before you turn the car on. This will help avoid fumbling over addresses while you drive.
- If you have a new car, make sure to familiarize yourself with its features, like windshield wipers, heat, air, etc, so that you aren’t fumbling to figure them out as you drive.
- Avoid eating in the car. Make time to eat before you leave or after you get to your destination.
- Finish grooming tasks, like doing your hair, makeup, or shaving, before you get in the car.
- Make sure everything is secure in your car before you leave. Having things roll around under your seat or in the backseat of your car can be a dangerous distraction.
- If you’re driving with young children or pets, make sure they are secure and have everything they need before you go.
- Young drivers should limit the number of passengers they have in the car. Passengers should do everything they can to help drivers stay focused when they are behind the wheel.
- Always model good behavior for your kids. If they see you using your phone while you’re driving, they may think this is acceptable behavior.
Making sure our roads are safe is a responsibility everyone can take part in. Follow these simple safety techniques to make sure you’re focused on the road ahead every time you drive.
(learn more: Tips to avoid standstill accidents safety moment33/).
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