…and probably don’t even know.
When people hear the term, “distracted driver,” they often assume that if they are not using their cell phone, they are not “distracted.”
This is not the case – there are dozens of distractions that can cause a crash resulting in injury to you or others.
The effects of driving sleepy have recently been compared to those of driving while intoxicated. Falling asleep at the wheel is a sure way to cause a crash. Sleepy driving tips:
- Do not drive when you are too tired! If you are tired when you start your journey, you will become even more tired during the journey; endangering yourself and others. Don’t do it!
- Down some caffeine – have a cup or two of your favorite brew
- Keep it cool – if it’s winter, crack the window and let the cool air keep you from getting overly comfortable, in the summertime, turn up the AC
- Buddy system – if possible, drive with a passenger who can engage you in conversation to keep your mind stimulated
Directions are a great way to get to your destination, but not if the driver is constantly referring to a screen instead of the road. GPS tips:
- Co-pilot – if you have one, delegate navigational responsibilities to your passenger
- Set it and forget it – set your route ahead of time, before hitting the road. If you need to change anything, pull over and adjust your information rather than attempt the risk of doing it while driving
- Old school – as hard as it is for us to let go of our technology, busy roads and highways are still full of signage, dictating which lanes and routes necessary to reach popular towns
Music is a wonderful accompaniment to a long drive, or a busy traffic jam, but remember, anytime your focus is taken off of the road, you are by definition, distracted; even if you’re just quickly searching for your favorite radio station. If your steering wheel has the controls, use them, otherwise resist the temptation to channel surf while driving. Also keep in mind that if your music is too loud, you won’t be able to perceive problems on the road or sirens near you.
This could mean literal window shopping as you drive through a busy boutique-lined city, or even just trying to see what’s going on at the rally on the corner, or craning your neck to check on the car wreck you just passed. Of course it’s tempting – our eyes are drawn to bright colors and flashing lights, but do try to avoid this nasty habit – causing a crash of your own is not worth it to temporarily satisfy your curiosity.
In a Rush
Although it may be hard to recognize, being in a rush can distract a driver. Their mind is no longer just on the road, but perhaps is focused on the side-effects of their tardiness, keeping their mind from focusing on the present task of safe driving. Set out early enough to avoid this risk.
Remember, being late is better than being rushed to the ER for causing a wreck.
Eating while driving is okay, as long as both hands are on the wheel and your attention is focused on the road and your surroundings. A potato chip or two is probably fine, but a burrito is not. Use common sense and avoid the distractions (and mess) that accompany driving and eating.
Kids tend to be distracting anyway, but be sure to use extra caution when driving with children. Turning around to answer a question or discipline a child can take your eyes and attention off the road and your surroundings before you know it!