Summer Driving Without Distraction
Distracted driving is a leading cause of summer road fatalities. Changing your focus can change your experience.
It is no surprise that summer comes with its own distractions. Many of the distractions you face in the colder months remain, but summer brings more vehicles on the road, more pedestrians walking and running, motorcycles and bicycles, vacationers towing boats and travel trailers, and construction crews, all of which draw drivers’ attention away from their driving. Professional drivers are not immune to distraction and need to maintain their good driving habits .
Constantly moving your eyes every couple of seconds is a good driving habit. Every driver is responsible for learning to deal safely with the things that may affect their driving. It may sound odd, but drivers also need to learn to ignore the unimportant stuff.
The subconscious mind may notice a distraction, but the conscious mind needs to weed it out and focus on the more important driving tasks. The trick is to stop your subconscious mind from taking over.
Distracted driving is a problem of behaviour. Good habits can help you avoid the problem by changing your response. Behaviour modification is much like changing a habit. Since habits form on triggers that initiate a routine behaviour, if you change your response to a trigger, you can avoid the habitual behaviour. For example, swearing is a common habit, generally triggered by something stressful—a vehicle cuts you off or you jam your finger and out comes an F-bomb. You can change your response to the trigger by consciously substituting a less offensive word. Choosing something funny may also help reduce the stress—fudge nuggets, jerk-featured thing. Eventually, the new behaviour becomes the habit.
When it comes to summer driving distractions, the triggers may come from what you see on the road that is different from the rest of the year. You may notice someone towing an attractive boat, something you’d like to have yourself. You start thinking of having a boat, where you’d take it, and how you’d go fishing. The next thing you know, you are not focused on driving. And there is another distraction up ahead..
You can change the way you respond to summer driving distractions by making a conscious effort to steer your thoughts away from the distraction. Focus instead on what may affect you on the road.
For example, if you set out to notice all the red vehicles for 10 minutes, that’s what your focus will be on. After that 10 minutes, if you were asked how many blue vehicles were on the road, you probably would not be able to recall very many. That’s because you focused on something other than blue vehicles. You trained your mind to ignore what you did not want to focus on.
You can do the same thing to avoid summer distraction . Focus on what’s important to your driving task and ignore the other things, and allow that process to become one of your good driving habits.
Tips to Prepare Your Truck for Summer
Summer time, and the driving is easy! Right? Well, no. Warm weather brings challenges ... and you cannot be complacent. Make sure your truck is summer-ready to hit the road. Although winter driving can be more difficult, Brad Zall, Health and Safety Advisor at SafetyDriven, notes that “it doesn’t mean there are fewer hazards in summer.” He lists more traffic, drivers distracted by a car full of excited vacationers, road construction, maintenance crews, animals on the road, and how easy it is to become less vigilant. Zall, with 15 years’ experience as a driver, including long haul, heavy haul, and hauling fuel, describes instances such as “trucks coming down a hill or around a bend unaware of stopped traffic and unable to stop in time.” Such a hair-raising experience highlights the importance of keeping your truck in good condition and staying alert. You keep safety in mind, take good care of your vehicle, and do all your regular inspections. As the weather heats up, it’s a good idea to give your truck an extra look. Think about what you haven’t been thinking about all winter—the effects of heat. These tips will help you meet the heat: Air conditioner. Test it, and inspect for leaks in the hoses and strange noises from the blower motor. Have it serviced or repaired. You may save yourself an uncomfortable ride! Tires. Heat increases air pressure (about 1 psi for every 12oC/10oF) and makes rubber wear more quickly, especially if your tires are not inflated properly. Inspect your tires for wear, check tire pressure regularly and make sure it is appropriate for your load, and drive at the posted speed limits—more speed equals more friction and heat. Remember that a blowout can damage fenders, fuel tanks, bumpers, and other places depending on the tire’s location. Be prepared for a blow-out. Reduce your speed and pull over when it’s safe. Set up emergency triangles while waiting for a repair service. Don’t drive on a blown tire; the debris is hazardous to other vehicles and can cause other tires to blow from carrying extra weight. Brakes. Brake failure is a common cause of accidents involving tractor trailers. Brake pads, bushings, linings, hoses—everything is subject to wear and affected by changing temperatures. Have a professional inspect your brakes before driving in the heat and be extra vigilant during your regular brake checks. Windshield Washer. Summer is bug season! Smashed bugs smear windshields, reducing visibility. Carry extra windshield washer and include it in your fluid level checks at rest areas, brake checks, and/or during pre- and post-trip inspections. Driver. Be sure you are ready for summer driving, which can cause physical issues like heat exhaustion from doing heavy work such as tarping or strapping down a load. Drink water, wear light clothing of breathable fabric, and take breaks. Symptoms of heat exhaustion/dehydration include clammy skin, heavy sweating, fatigue, nausea, dizziness/fainting, and confusion or decreased alertness. Avoid some stress by checking your BC route for delays at DriveBC.ca. Be aware of your health and remember to drive safely! You can depend on SafetyDriven.ca for all your safety needs! For more safety news, sign up for our weekly newsletter!
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