Distracted driving kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, and the worst part is that an overwhelming majority of these accidents are avoidable. Having screaming children in the backseat is a distraction that you can’t easily avoid. However, there are many others that can be prevented to protect yourself, others in the same vehicle, and those on the road around you.
In addition, being stopped by the police for distracted driving – or worse, if you get in an accident – will likely lead to demerit points, a hefty fine, and an increase in auto insurance premiums. With that in mind, here are some of the top distractions drivers fall prey to as well as ways to avoid them.
Put the Phone Away
It’s common sense that when you’re staring at your phone, you’re not staring at the road ahead or checking your blind spots. All it takes is a single second of being distracted by your smartphone to end up in a serious accident, putting lives and your finances at risk at the same time. Every single year, there are higher and higher rates of deaths caused by drivers distracted by their phones, especially in the younger demographics.
Prevent being enticed by your phone by putting it on silent mode, away from view while you drive.
Audio Calls (Such as Over Bluetooth)
It used to be the consensus that hands-free calling is safe, but your mind is still partially focused on the conversation. While many folks can multitask with ease, this is still a gamble, and annoyances such as fiddling with your phone or infotainment system anyway due a dropped call or software glitch is equally dangerous. This is still distracted driving, and therefore it still poses a serious risk.
Use Audio Command Options and Pre-Set Your GPS When Stopped
Most modern vehicles offer options to provide audio commands to change music, make calls, and even set the GPS. Fiddling with your GPS and other controls while driving is just as bad as being on your phone directly or via hands-free calling. To avoid distractions like these, enter your destination(s) while you are parked, and make sure they have loaded before you begin to drive. If you need to alter your route, find somewhere to safely pull over your vehicle before making any changes.
Discourage Distractions from Passengers
Whether your passengers are wanting to blast the stereo and bop around in their seats, pulling out their phones and trying to show you videos, or telling you to make a funny face for a selfie, know that they are actively putting everyone at risk. Don’t let yourself get distracted by your passengers, no matter what age they are. As the driver, you are responsible for everyone’s safety, and you need to make it clear that they shouldn’t be interfering.
Encourage Helpful Behaviour
There are many positives associated to not being in the car alone. For instance, having passengers gives you another set of hands to make any changes to the GPS or stereo that would otherwise distract you, so put them to work! Passengers are especially useful if they occupy the front seat beside you – think of them as your co-pilot, certified Spotify playlist and music volume manager, and Google Maps navigator all in one. This can help you focus on the road ahead, parking, or otherwise while they are free to safely manage other aspects of the trip via their spare hands and smartphone. Of course, if they start trying to show you Reddit threads or Tik-Tok videos, then that’s why the back seat is there, so be sure to stop the car and get them to move back so you aren’t distracted!
Save the Snacking for Stops
While it’s perfectly understandable to take a sip of coffee along the way, mowing down on a breakfast sandwich or a burger is the perfect recipe for disaster, food pun intended! It’s important to stay hydrated and/or energized while at the wheel, so non-alcoholic drink sips are fair game, but you should keep this to a minimum so both hands can remain on the wheel whenever the vehicle is in motion. A pro tip: wait to pick up that double-double until you are stopped at an intersection or stop sign, and only when it’s clear that you won’t be moving for a little bit. Eating a meal in one hand and driving with the other is often how many drivers lose control, spin out, or veer off the road without intending to.
Almost all accidents caused by distracted driving are avoidable. Take your safety, and that of your passengers, seriously. By following the necessary steps to avoid blatant, unnecessary distractions while driving, you can enjoy your journey and get there with peace of mind. For more details on insurance standards related to driving, don’t hesitate to contact us at Rowat Insurance and explore our available policy options.