Distracted driving has become a very serious issue. In the U.S. federal research indicates that about 11 percent of all highway deaths are the result of distracted driving. For teenagers the statistics are even more startling as 6 out of 10 accidents are the result of driver distraction. In Ontario distracted driving is now the leading cause of death, surpassing impaired driving. Certainly cell phones have become one of the leading factors in distracted driving, but they are not the only problem.
Here are several tips on how we can all avoid distracted driving:
Don’t use your phone. There is no call that is too important that it can’t wait until you are safely stopped. Studies have shown that even hands-free conversations can be distracting. Stop the temptation to use the phone by turning it off or putting it on silence or airplane mode. If you must call someone make sure to pull over to a safe location such as a rest area or gas station.
Know where you’re going and program your GPS if you have one. There is no excuse to not know where you are going. With the internet it is very simple to print out a route along with maps that can be reviewed before heading out on your trip. While traveling, if needed, pull off the road to review the route. If you have a GPS make sure to program in the destination before leaving the driveway. Make sure that the GPS is located in a spot so that you do not need to take your eyes off the road.
Know your car before you start. Know where the controls and dials are located in your car before you head out. Check the wiper blades, wiper fluid and of course, clean the windshield. Set the interior temperature to a comfortable setting so that you do not have to fiddle with the controls while driving.
Prepare your music. A few seconds of taking your eyes off the road can have severe consequences so you do not want to be fiddling with the radio dial trying to find the right station. Set your radio preset buttons and use the "Seek" function rather than pressing random buttons.
Don’t eat while driving. It is surprising how distracting eating can be while driving. Pulling packaging off, holding it in one hand or just the simple motion of bringing the food to your mouth. Even the best drivers cannot avoid looking down when something spills onto their lap.