Distracted driving is a form of impaired driving as a driver’s judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road. Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in other activities—such as looking after children, texting, talking on the phone or to a passenger, watching videos, eating, or reading. Even talking to passengers and driving while fatigued (mentally and/or physically) can be forms of distracted driving. These activities take the driver’s attention away from the road. All distractions compromise the safety of the driver, passengers, bystanders and those in other vehicles.
Distracted driving can:
- Impair judgment
- Cause you to fall asleep behind the wheel
- Reduce reaction time
- Result in injury, killing yourself, your passengers and/or other people
Here are some distracted driving solutions to help make your drive safer:
Plan Your Route – Planning your route should occur before getting in the car so you have a good handle on where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Plan how much time you’ll need to reach your destination, road closures to avoid and best time to leave. If you will be using a GPS system, program your route prior to starting the car. If your GPS can call out the turns, you should have it set to do so. Have the volume set so you can hear the instructions and do not need to glance down to view the GPS.
Put your Cell Phone Away – Cell phones should be out of your reach. Reduce the temptation by keeping it out of sight, like in the trunk or in a bag, and turn the ringer off. Most smartphones can now be setup to send an auto reply when you receive a text or phone call.
Passengers – Passengers in your vehicle is a common distraction, as a result, graduated licensing (in some provinces) limits the number of passengers that are allowed with a younger driver. Advise your passengers to be quiet if a risky situation arises on the road; your attention will be less on the road if you’re talking/listening to them. Silence will also help when deciding what the safest actions to take are.
Having passengers in your car differs from talking on the phone because the person on the other end of the phone will not know when to be quiet as they are unable to spot any safety risks.
Eating and Drinking – It’s best to avoid eating and drinking while driving. If you need to take a drink, wait until you are stopped at a red light.
Music – Music should never be so loud that you would not be able to hear a siren, or the screech of brakes from another vehicle.
Personal Grooming – Do your personal grooming at home, not while driving a vehicle.
Secure Objects – Place any items like purses, backpacks and coats in the trunk or safely tucked behind the seat on the ground so they will not go flying if you have to brake in an emergency. Items that are flying around may distract you from the road. For example, items that are falling out of your purse might grab your attention and your instinctive reaction may be to reach for the things that are/went flying.
For more information on distracted driving you can read about it as part of Crime Prevention Week.