Drunk driving has claimed the lives of many. However, in the new information age, we’re seeing far more people involved in distracted driving. According to the NHTSA, over three thousand people died from distracted driving in 2019. When a driver becomes distracted, they endanger everyone in their vehicle. Common distractions happen far too often, even among seasoned drivers. Even if you’re driving alone, you could cause severe injury or death to someone on the other side of the road, just by using your phone. From a school to a hospital, paying attention can ensure pedestrians remain safe. These damages aren’t even considering property damage. Being alert and aware of your surroundings can be a difficult task, but it’s in everyone’s best interest that you do. Only through your concerted efforts can you prevent becoming one of these distracted drivers. But how do you figure out what these distracted driving behaviors are?
What is Distracted Driving?
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) defines distracted driving as anything that might take away from the driver’s attention to the road. Distracted driving laws allow for police officers to issue a distracted driving ticket to disobedient drivers. Staying alert helps you to avoid running afoul of these distracted driving laws. There are several common types of distractions:
- Visual: A visual driver distraction can be anything that steals your vision from the road. Paying attention to the road will take all of your concentration. Visual distractions include unsecured pieces of paper that might obstruct your line of sight if blown in front of you or using cell phones or another electronic device while driving. These can be dangerous distractions in the wrong circumstances.
- Manual: If you’re operating a motor vehicle, you’ll need to have control of the car at all times. Even if you think having a single hand on the wheel is enough, it usually isn’t in a life-and-death situation. Any activity that forces your to take a hand off the wheel is a distraction.
- Cognitive: Concentration is needed while driving to estimate distances and make turns. Cognitive distractions impact your concentration. Driver distraction may come from losing focus because of external stimuli. Cell phones also fall into this category., both by stealing attention through notifications from applications and calls.
How Dangerous is It?
Distracted driving can be a severe problem. Teen drivers and older novice drivers are the most common culprits. But they aren’t alone. A significant percentage of drivers have ended up in serious accidents because of the activity. It’s not just about the number of people who were killed either. Being damaged in a car accident extends over the long term. A teen driver who fell victim to a handheld cell phone while driving may face dire injuries.
If you get into an accident, your insurance premiums will also go up, making it more expensive to cover your vehicle. Insurance companies warn their drivers against engaging in distracted driving.. Most states have instituted legislation that bans messaging while driving, but some have increased this to cover smartphone applications as well. Legislation can’t always prevent these situations, however. The onus is always on the driver.
What To Do To Reduce Distracted Driving?
Reducing distracted driving doesn’t have to be excessively difficult. A lot of the suggestions that can help prevent accidents due to distracted driving seem like common sense. The element that’s lacking in most cases is the conscious decision of the driver to follow these suggestions.
1. Don’t Eat or Drink While Driving
When you’re eating or drinking, you’ll likely have to use your hands. Driving while doing so opens up a lot of possibilities. Having to respond to a situation with another driver might result in having to let go of your food, causing it to spill. Hot drinks can similarly spill when trying to control your vehicle. Mostly, you’ll lose control of the car because one hand is occupied with your food. Your attention will also be divided between driving and eating or drinking. No matter how much of a hurry you’re in to get somewhere, it’s safer just to pull over and eat or drink first.
2. Don’t Get Engaged in Complicated Tasks
Technology can be a godsend in many situations. We can use it for anything from browsing video to getting caught up with school. However, it requires a lot of your attention to operate. If you’re driving, it may be best to avoid using things like cell phones or other handheld device. Hands-free phones can help when answering a phone, but it’s more viable to keep your conversations short and to the point. Complicated tasks can make you lose your focus or transfer it to something else. If you must use a device, or answer a call, pull over. Even if you have a hands-free set, the safest thing is to stop moving, so you won’t get distracted. Most states incorporate prohibitions for this in their distracted driving policy.
3. Don’t Use a Handheld Cell Phone While Behind the Wheel
As mentioned before, texting and phone calls can be detrimental to your attention. Not only are calls distracting, but they might drag your eyes from the road to the handset. Similarly, fiddling with an application can have dire consequences. You will most likely have to reach over to your phone (or access it from your pocket), forcing you to take your hands off the wheel. It only takes a few seconds for an accident to occur. You wouldn’t be able to react fast enough in this situation to ensure you avoid it.
4. Set Adjustments Before Heading Out
Your car infotainment system can be a technological marvel. Unfortunately, fiddling with the radio dial or the navigation system while in traffic can take your attention from the road and leave you vulnerable to an accident. Before you even leave your parking spot, you should set your GPS destination, and any stops you may have to make on the way. A handy feature in some apps is that they prevent individuals from using their GPS software while their vehicle is moving. Setting things like your music and your climate control settings early on can ensure you keep your attention where it needs to be.
5. Eyes On The Road At All Points
It’s tempting to glance outside the window. In some cases, if you’re a passenger, it’s the best way to pass the time during the journey. However, if you’re a driver, nothing could be more dangerous in traffic. Keeping your eyes on the road helps you figure out exactly when someone around you is planning to merge. It’ll also inform you whether entering another lane is safe or if you should look out for police or emergency vehicles. You can hold off from watching that video for a few minutes more. You shouldn’t just look out for law enforcement with your eyes. Use it on the roads as well.
6. Clean Your Vehicle Interior
Cars can get dirty, primarily if a professional uses them as a second home. What we overlook is how dangerous those internal objects can be. If you wind down a window on the highway, the drafts can pick up an unsecured sheet of paper and make it fly in front of your windscreen, obstructing your view. Bottles and other debris may get under your brake or accelerator pedals and make it difficult to stop or go. Cleaning the interior of the vehicle is more than just an aesthetic choice. It helps reduce distractions during your trek.
7. Never Drive While Sleepy
Some drivers think that, as long as they’re in the driver’s seat, their car can’t crash. Unfortunately, that’s not true. All a crash needs to happen is for the driver to lose control of the vehicle. If you’re sleepy, it’s more likely you’ll close your eyes and forget to reopen them. In such a case, a moving car could be a death sentence. In traffic, where constant vigilance is required, a lapse of concentration could spell disaster. If you are sleepy, pull over to have a rest before continuing. You might be a little late, but at least you’ll get there.
8. Apply Makeup and Grooming At Home
Shaving and applying makeup isn’t something you should do in your car if you can avoid it. If you can’t, you should stop before attempting to apply cosmetics or perform grooming. If you look at the amount of intense concentration these tasks require, it’s apparent that you won’t be able to pay attention to the roads during them. This consideration applies doubly so in traffic. Most drivers think that they can get away with trying to groom or apply makeup in stop-and-go conditions, but that’s even more unsafe. The safest option is to simply do these things in the comfort of your own home.
Distracted Driving Is Your Responsibility
Each state has its own distracted driving policy, but ultimately, you’re responsible for your own safety.. Regardless of the distracted driving policy in your state, you should be aware of your safety. However, on a busy road, your safety might translate into the safety of other people. Following the distracted driving laws can give you some level of safety. You can’t afford to find yourself distracted while driving. If you do, you might bear the responsibility for lost lives and damaged property. Law enforcement officers can’t be everywhere.
Most drivers learn the basic rules of paying attention while driving. Yet, as they get older, they get familiar with the skills. This familiarity, as the proverb says, breeds contempt. There’s no telling when an accident is going to happen or how you should respond to it. Instead, it would help if you had constant vigilance on the roads. You might save more than just your own life as a result. Call the experts at McDonald Worley Law Firm.