According to www.distraction.gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, at any given daylight moment more than 650,000 drivers throughout the U.S. are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving. Is it any wonder that every year several thousand people die and several hundred thousand more are injured as the result of distracted driving accidents? That’s the bad news.
Most people understand the dangers of distracted driving, especially texting on cell phones while driving. Yet more than half a million people do it every day. It’s time to bring this dangerous practice to a screeching halt!
Distracted driving is defined as “any activity that prevents you from giving your full attention to the activity of driving while behind the wheel.” It can include everything from putting on makeup to eating, using a navigation system, adjusting the radio or MP3 player, and talking or texting on the phone. Even something as simple as talking to a passenger in the car can be considered distracted driving if it takes your attention away from the road.
Stopping Distracted Driving
The good news? There are many ways to prevent distracting driving, and they all start with each individual driver making a personal commitment not to do it.
Lose the phone.
In today’s fast paced culture, we are programmed to respond to our cell phones. When we hear that ring tone signaling a text or a call, the urge to immediately answer can be hard to resist, even when we’re behind the wheel. The best way to avoid this temptation is to put your phone where you can’t get it while driving. This could be in your purse, in the glove compartment, or even hand it to a passenger.
Set up your car’s hands-free controls in advance.
Today’s newer models of cars often have sophisticated communications, entertainment, and climate control systems that are visually driven or through audio commands. To minimize distractions, learn how to use these systems and set up your radio stations, streaming music, and climate references before you set off to your destination.
Don’t groom yourself in the car.
If you need to shave, apply makeup, fix your hair, or any other type of personal grooming, do it before you get behind the wheel. You can’t look at yourself in the mirror and drive safely at the same time.
Don’t eat and drive.
Everyone knows the dangers of drinking and driving. Eating behind the wheel can be just as bad, especially if you’re munching a giant burger or some other messy food that could fall apart in your hands. Eating makes it difficult to keep both hands on the wheel, and spilling food in your lap can lead to a sudden reaction that causes you to swerve into oncoming traffic. Avoid hot drinks for the same reason.
Program your GPS ahead of time.
If you need assistance in finding your destination, enter the address into your smartphone map before you pull out of the driveway. While driving, use the GPS device’s voice feature so you can hear the directions rather than taking your eyes off the road to read them.
Finally, if any kind of distracting activity demands your attention, pull off the road and stop the car. Nothing is worth risking your life and the lives of other drivers simply to save a few seconds.