How can drivers minimize their distractions?

Most drivers out there know by now that distracted driving, highlighted by but not limited to cell phone use, leads to car accidents. These crashes can leave the parties involved injured and can even lead to death.

As noted, when most people think of distracted driving, they think of a driver zoned in on their smartphone. In 2016, the National Safety Council surveyed more than 3,4000 adult drivers to identify which phone-related distractions were the most common. Listed from the most common to the least, this is what they found.

  • 51% answered phone calls via a hands-free device
  • 32% Read or responded to text messages
  • 23% Read or responded to an email
  • 23% Scrolled, read or posted on social media
  • 21% Scrolled various websites
  • 19% viewed, shot, recorded or posted photos or videos
  • 19% called or answered a phone with without a hands-free device
  • 14% Watched a television show or movie on their phone
  • 14% joined a video chat

Even after all of those distractions, there are still more, like daydreaming, reaching for something that fell, turning your head to talk to your passenger, eating, applying makeup and smoking while driving. Many of the distractions just listed aren’t nearly as dangerous as staring at your phone, but nevertheless, they are distractions that take out mind, eyes ad sometimes both, off of the task at hand.

How to minimize driving distractions

There are steps you can take to increase your focus on the road. One is to quit multitasking and put the phone away. A driver’s focus should be singular and married to the road. Other considerations include:

  • Avoid eating and drinking (when you can): This is a hefty ask and one unlikely to be approved by the masses. Sometimes, it’s just so easy to grab a quick bite for the road or a snack for a road trip, but it’s a distractor. Eat if you need to, and avoid when you can.
  • Avoid complications: If something in your car is bothering you, or your phone is blowing up, there is likely a situation that needs addressing. Pull over to the side of the road before the complication turns into a crash.
  • If it falls, let it be: Sometimes, items in our cab aren’t properly stored or slip out of our pockets, and it’s quite aggravating when something slip between the seats or falls at out feet. If it slips between the seats, it’s not the end of the world. You can angrily fetch the item once you’ve come reached your destination. If an item falls at your feet, it could affect your ability to drive; push it away with your free foot if the item is in the way and pick it when you’ve come to a complete stop.
  • Avoid doing your pre-driving tasks while you drive: If you need to set your GPS, or the A/C, heat, or your favorite music playlist, do so before stepping on the gas pedal as all of those tasks take our eyes off the road.

Lastly, be vigilant in avoiding drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration cited that 100,000 drowsy driving crashes occur every year. If you are so tired that you can hardly drive, do the smart thing and pull over to rest your eyes or make the trip a different day.

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