With so many cars on the road, it’s inevitable that there are going to be accidents. However, a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that driver distraction is behind 65% of near-crashes, and 80% of actual crashes.
Out of these, most crashes occur within three seconds of the driver being distracted.
Taking heed of the following tips could help to stop you being distracted whilst behind the wheel, and potentially save your life.
- Know where you’re going before you leave
Planning your route using a map or online web tools before you leave can help prevent you getting distracted from focussing on road signs instead of the road ahead. If you forget your route it is better to pull over and consult a map rather than continue in hope. If you are using a GPS, put it in a place where you won’t have to take your eyes of the road.
Most in-built GPS are built within a 30-degree field of view so that you won’t have to take your eyes of the road and get distracted.
- Don’t drive when tired, rest periodically
Being tired makes it 50% more likely that you will get distracted, and significantly increases the chances of you having an accident. If you feel too tired to drive, it is safer to pull off the road and rest rather than driving faster to get home quicker. Driving faster whilst tired requires more effort and concentration.
- Secure your passengers
Passengers and pets are amongst the most common reasons for being distracted when driving. Children especially can distract motorists.
When driving with children in the car, provide them age appropriate books and toys that won’t cause a disruption if it is going to be a long journey. If children do play up whilst on a journey, make sure you pull over if you need to discipline them rather than doing it whilst on the move.
If you need to take your pet in the car, make sure they are secured in a carrier or harness.
- NEVER use your mobile whilst driving
Not only is this highly dangerous, and one of the most common reasons for distraction caused crashes, it is also illegal, and could lead to points on your licence, a hefty fine, or even a ban.
Using a hands free kit whilst not illegal does not actually reduce the chances of the driver getting distracted by much as they are still more concentrated on the conversation than the road ahead.
Worse than using your phone for a call is to use it for sending a text or e-mail, not only is this illegal it is highly dangerous.
- Avoid using mirrors whilst driving
We don’t mean your wing mirrors or interior mirror as these are an integral part of driving. One of the main distraction crashes for females is because they were using the make-up mirror. Get ready before you get in the car, or after you get out, not whilst you are driving.
- Control your rage
Road rage is an impairment, and can be a bigger distraction than all those above. If another driver or road works etc makes you angry, pull over and take time to calm down. If you are angry before leaving, delay your journey as your decisions when angry may not be the decisions you would make when calm.
All of the above points can help to prevent you from being in an accident whilst driving, but none of them are better than common sense. Taking our eyes off the road for any amount of time can bring about a thousand different scenarios, so it’s better to give it your full attention.
By Ben Malkin
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