Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road and can greatly increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.
“In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers,” according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Using mobile devices to call, text or email is a leading cause of distracted driving.
While there is little you can do to control other people’s driving, there is plenty you can do to reduce your own distractions by practicing safe driving techniques which will significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an auto accident.
Stay Off Your Phone
The convenience and ease of communication with mobile devices leads to cellphone use being the most common driver distraction and results in many accidents every year. According to the National Safety Council, 7% of all drivers at any given time are using their phones for quick communication while driving. Safety should never be traded for convenience.
- Talking on the phone while driving is dangerous because you cannot adequately divide your attention between the road and your conversation even if you are using a hands-free device.
- Texting is even more dangerous than talking on the phone. Texting while driving is comparable to drunk driving in terms of decreased reaction time and impairment. You should always refrain from texting, checking email, programming a mobile GPS device or using your phone in any way while driving.
Distracted driving due to mobile devices isn’t just a problem with teenagers. Drivers of all ages are susceptible to being dangerously distracted. Remember, just because a driver is more experienced does not mean that they can drive safely while texting, calling or being distracted by a mobile device.
To combat the growing danger of phone use while driving, many states have enacted laws against texting and handheld cellphone use. Not only could you be endangering yourself and those around you, but phone use while driving could cost you a lot of money in fines. To avoid a ticket and a potentially dangerous accident, DO NOT USE YOUR CELLPHONE while driving. If necessary, silence or turn off your phone and if you must absolutely make a phone call or text, pull off the road in a safe area and then do so.
Don’t Multitask at the Wheel
While there is little you can do to control other people’s driving, there is plenty you can do to reduce your own distractions. Do not engage in any of the following while driving:
- Touching up makeup or hair
- Talking with other passengers to the extent that you aren’t watching the road
- Adjusting the radio or other audio devices
- Allowing your dog to sit on your lap
Get Plenty of Rest
Driving any distance requires you to be physically and mentally well-rested. Fatigue plays a large role in motor vehicle accidents and can be a major element in driving distractions. If you become drowsy, pull off the road at a safe place and take a short walk or nap.
Know Where You Are Going
Before you set out for a new location, familiarize yourself with the route. If you need to check your map or call for directions along the way, pull over before doing so.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Alcohol is the single greatest contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle accidents. Never drive while intoxicated. If you are going to an event that serves alcohol, know how you’re getting home beforehand and act accordingly. If necessary, program the number for a taxicab service into your phone or call for an Uber. Be aware that some prescription medications may also have debilitating effects on your driving.
Practice Defensive Driving
In addition to avoiding distractions, you should give your full attention to driving defensively. This can help minimize the risk of an auto accident. It’s important that you are aware of other drivers around you and make adjustments to your driving accordingly.
- National Safety Council
- National Highway Traffic Safety Council
- SR22 - The Hazards of Distracted Driving