The risks of distracted driving can cost you more than just a hospital visit. See how best we can avoid these distractions.
It’s 8 a.m., and you hop into your car to drive to work. You have every intention of driving cautiously but within moments of merging into the highway you’ve already checked your makeup in the mirror, tuned-in to your favorite radio station and programmed your GPS for a meeting location. Not to forget those two cell phone calls you made to your maid and that cutesy little ‘happy birthday’ voice message you WhatsApp-ed to your friend.
Hey, You Might Not Realize, But You’re A Distracted Driver!
Every time you take your focus off the road, even if it’s just for a split second, you’re pushing your own life and those of others into danger. Distracted driving-related accidents, an emerging and fatal epidemic on the Indian roads, cause a frightening number of deaths and an equal number of injuries each year. And since many local law enforcement agencies don’t routinely record distraction factors in accident reports, the severity of such cases could actually be much higher.
Broadly, there could be three main types of distractions while driving.
Visual distractions that prompt you to take your eyes off the road,
Manual distractions that make you take your hands off the steering wheel, knowingly or unknowingly and
Cognitive distractions such as listening to an exciting radio talk show
Focus On The Road: Keep Yourself And Your Passengers Safe And Secure On The Way
Texting while driving is another common distraction and the highest risk of all cellphone-related activities. Studies show that text messaging causes the drivers to take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval, meaning at approx. 88 kph, a texting driver would travel the length of a football field without looking at the road.
While some distractions just can’t be neglected, most can be! Here are some pointers to remain focused and drive safer out there:
Turn off or shush (silent) your cell phone before you start the car and limit its use to emergency situations only.
Secure your kids or pets (if they’re traveling with you) before you begin to drive. If they demand your attention, pull off the road cautiously to care for them. Reaching into the backseat when driving can make you lose control of the vehicle.
Avoid eating or drinking while driving. (All those drive-in fast food businesses have better ways to make profits.)
Set your GPS (if you have to) before starting the engine.
Pull off the road if you feel drowsy or super tired. Drive rested, not when tired.
Limit the level of activity as well as the number of passengers inside the car. Chaotic driving conditions are not favorable.
Avoid multitasking and stay focused on the road. Checking your e-mails, even the important ones, can wait until you reach your destination.
Securely store loose possessions, gear, and other items that could roll around in the car making you reach for them on the floor or the seat.
Primp before or after you drive. Personal grooming and dressing should be finished at home – before you get on the road.
Manage your music in advance. We believe that good music can be a real stress-buster however, fidgeting with the radio or changing the tracks while driving could be equally dangerous. Prepare your music, playlists, etc. at home, not when you’re driving.
Always be a defensive driver by practicing safe driving techniques, such as checking your rear-view mirror and scanning the road now and then. Apart from helping you drive carefully, this helps keep your mind centered on driving.
If any other activity demands your concentration, rather than trying to attempt it while driving, pull off and stop your vehicle in a secure place.
Last but not the least, no matter how much you love Pokemon, you just can’t look out for them while driving.
Distractions And Youngsters
Enough research has confirmed that human mind can process a limited amount of information at any one time. Various demands that transpire during driving coerce people to shift their attention back and forth. This particularly applies to young drivers for obvious reasons. As a parent/guardian, it’s our responsibility to guide and encourage the young blood towards accountable driving ensuring utmost safety.
Avoid Distractions To Avoid Disasters
Distracted driving is noticed almost everywhere around us—from people struggling to change gears while being hooked to their cell phone to as dangerous as fatigued drivers dozing off amidst the calmness of the night. Whatever the reason is, you just can’t compromise on being focused while driving. Remember, everything else can be on hold and re-built—except Life!
Recommended Read: Tips for Maintaining Safety on Roads