Driving is a very important part of life. You drive yourself to work, to the grocery store, to family functions, and just about anywhere else that you want to go. While driving, how safe do you think you are? Do you wear your seatbelt? Are you completely focused on the road and your surroundings? Many people will answer yes, but the truth is there are many distractions that are not accounted for in an everyday driving situation.
Many things can be a distraction while driving. The following are the most common distractions for drivers on the road today.
Talking on the Phone
This is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. The phone rings, typically, drivers answer because they either want to talk or the phone call could be important. Helpful tip: set up a professional sounding voicemail greeting, such as, “Hi, you’ve reached [insert name], please leave your number and message and I will return your call pleasantly soon.” Having a professional voicemail greeting encourages callers to leave a message. This enables you to drive safely, but also allows you to feel confident that your caller will be responded to in a timely manner. Call them back when you get to your destination. If you feel the need to answer immediately, pull over onto the shoulder of the road, turn on your flashers, then accept the call. That call is not more important than your life.
Although this deals with a cell phone as well, texting is not only taking your focus mentally from the road but physically. You have to take your eyes off the road to read the texts, then you respond, taking a hand off of the wheel and potentially causing an accident by being less focused on the road and the surroundings.
Searching for Something
When you’re looking for that lighter to light your cigarette or that phone that just slid off the dash, you are taking your focus completely off the road. Maneuvering your body in a position to be able to reach an object can potentially endanger yourself and others.
Fixing Your Appearance
This could be anything from straightening up a tie to applying makeup. In that split second that you are focusing on your appearance, a child or animal could run out in the middle of the road, the car in front of you could slam on their brakes or any number of quick-reaction scenarios. Helpful tip: pull over a mile before arriving to your destination or in the parking lot of your destination and adjust your appearance.
Adjusting the Navigation System
Imputing the information into the navigation system can distract you from what other drivers are doing around you. Someone else could also be distracted causing a rear end, collision, or side swipe of your vehicle. You have to be prepared for other drivers. Defensive driving can help protect you and your vehicle. Helpful tip: input all navigational information prior to moving your vehicle.
Distractions are everywhere. Focusing on someone on the side of the road can ultimately cause an accident if your focus is not completely on the road ahead of you. Distractions that are visual, cognitive, and manual can all occur while you are driving. It’s knowing these distractions and avoiding them that could save your life and the lives of others.