How to reduce distractions behind the wheel
Distracted driving is a significant safety issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates about eight people in the United States are killed in crashes that are attributed to distracted driving every day.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said there were 2,895 distraction-affected fatal crashes in 2019, with distraction-related events accounting for 9 percent of all fatal crashes in the country. Distracted driving also puts Canadians at risk. Transport Canada’s National Collision Database said distracted driving prevalence rose from 16 percent of fatal collisions in 2006 to 21 percent in 2016, and those numbers are still climbing.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, distractions are a major safety threat. Eating, talking with passengers, adjusting vehicle controls and using a mobile phone while behind the wheel are activities that take drivers’ attentions away from the road. In fact, distractions are broken down into several categories:
• Visual distractions: Anything that takes one’s eyes off of the road.
• Manual distractions: Anything that takes one’s hands off of the steering wheel.
• Cognitive distractions: Anything that takes one’s mind off of driving.
Drivers can follow these tips to make vehicles distraction-free and reduce the risk for accidents or near misses.
Make adjustments before setting off
Make adjustments to mirrors, radio stations and seat settings prior to driving. In addition, drivers who intend to utilize a GPS navigation system should enter the address and look ahead at the course before getting on the road.
Keep smartphones out of sight
Reducing the urge to check a phone alert or send a text may come down to out of sight, out of mind. Silence the phone and store it in the glove compartment, center console or a purse in the back seat. The phone should not be handled until the destination is reached or if the vehicle is pulled over safely out of traffic. Smartphones have settings that can be programmed to send automatic notifications to people contacting the phone owner to say they’re driving or temporarily unavailable.
Eat before leaving
Consuming food or drink on the road takes a person’s hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. Drivers should try to eat before getting on the road, or pull over to a rest stop for a snack if need be.
Use hands-free devices in emergencies
Many cars come equipped with Bluetooth or other hands-free technology that enables a distress call to be made without having to take hands off the wheel. Many are voice-activated or can be engaged with the push of a button.
A vehicle full of passengers can be very distracting. It’s why many areas no longer allow newly minted teenage drivers to transport more than a few passengers until they’re older and more experienced. Limiting passengers even for experienced adults can help reduce distractions as well.
People can take steps to reduce distractions on the road and share their advice with others they love.