Drivers these days seem to be concerned with just about everything but driving. How many times have you wondered why the car in front of you is swerving, only to find out later that the person was on his or her cell phone? How about the woman in front of you at a red light putting on makeup? Or even the person with a coffee in one hand, navigating the GPS with the other hand, all while having a conversation with a passenger and steering with his or her knee?
Distracted driving is all over the news these days-and not for a good reason. In 2009, 20 percent of injury crashes involved reports of distracted driving (USDOT).
To combat one major contributor of distracted driving, more and more states are passing laws that prohibit the use of handheld cell phones while driving. In most of these states an officer can cite you for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place. Also, over 30 states have banned text messaging for drivers.
Use these five tips to stay safe and avoid distractions while driving:
- The first one is easy (and common sense): turn off your cell phone. Switch it to silent mode before you get into your car. Better yet, put your cell phone in your trunk before driving. Any phone call or text message you receive can wait until you arrive at your destination or have stopped safely.
- Before traveling, review your maps and directions. Directions can be a huge distraction while driving-both printed maps and in-vehicle navigation units. If you need to review directions while driving, ask a passenger for help or pull over to a safe location.
- Don’t treat you car like a restaurant. Eating and drinking is so natural that many drivers think that they can do it while driving. But it can be extremely dangerous, as it often causes you to take your hands off the wheel, and your eyes and mind off of the road. Pull over if you absolutely must have that drink or snack, or wait until you’ve reached your destination.
- Focus, focus, focus. Think of driving as a job that requires your full attention. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading, and any other activity that takes your eyes, ears, or mind off of the road ahead.
- Be on the lookout for DDs. If you see a driver who you suspect is “under the influence” of distractions, change lanes or pull over to let him or her pass you.
Do you have any other tips for us? How do you handle the distractions that come with driving? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen someone do on the road?
Photo credit: Paul Oka