Texting and driving is a major safety issue, but distracted driving is about more than just your phone. Here are some distracted driving statistics: Distracted drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers (Alberta Transportation, 2011) and driver inattentiveness contributes to 80% of coliisions (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010). As vehicles become more technologically advanced and devices become more integrated into our daily lives, the temptation to just take this call or send this one last message gets harder and harder to resist.
Get comfortable before you go. Before you back out of your driveway, make sure you’re comfortable and ready for a drive. Adjust your mirrors, seat settings, radio station, temperature settings and air vents so you don’t have to fiddle with them during your commute.
Put away your phone. Talking and texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel. If you can’t resist the temptation of a ringing phone, then turn your phone off while you’re in the vehicle or put it somewhere that’s difficult to access. If you’re waiting for an important call, then pull over to talk. Even hands-free talking is distracting. When you’re driving, focus on driving.
Eat before you drive. It’s convenient to eat on the go but juggling a sandwich or coffee while you’re trying to pay attention to the road is a recipe for disaster. Eat before you go or if you must stop while you’re on the road, avoid the drive-thru and eat inside the restaurant instead. Not only is it safer but you’ll also avoid spilling on yourself and your car.
If you drop something, leave it. Dropped your purse or wallet while you’re driving? Don’t reach to get it – It can wait until you’ve reached your destination. If the dropped item is in a dangerous spot (ie. it could roll under your brake or gas pedals), pull over as soon as possible and then pick it up. According to CAA, drivers are nine times more likely to crash when reaching for a moving object.
Get ready before you leave. Tie your tie, fix your hair and make-up and adjust your clothing before you get on the road. Take off constraining jackets before turning on your vehicle, as opposed to trying to shuffle out of them – even if you’re at a stoplight. If you’re fidgeting with a jacket or checking your teeth in the rearview mirror, you’re missing what’s happening with all the other drivers around you.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t get distracted by big billboards, storefronts or activities happening alongside the road. Keep your eyes on what’s in front of you and pay attention to what other vehicles are doing. You always need to be alert and on the lookout for potential dangers.
Plan your route in advance. If you’re driving somewhere you’re unfamiliar with, check out the map and get a good sense of where you need to go before your car is in motion. If you’re using a GPS, enter in your destination and check that it’s right before you leave. You’ll want to turn up the volume settings so you can listen to the GPS instead of having to watch the screen for directions.
Give your children your full attention. Long car rides can make for grumpy kids. If your children are misbehaving or need help in the backseat, pull over to address the issue.
Secure your pets in the backseat. If your constant travelling companion is furry and has four paws, make sure you put them in the backseat and secure them so they remain back there and don’t become a distraction. You don’t want them to be able to roam freely in the front seat, blocking your view or bumping into the steering wheel. Plus, they’re much safer in the event of a crash if they’re properly restrained.