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Drive Safely: Avoiding Distracted Driving

“Drive safely!” is a statement we often hear as we’re leaving our homes, a friend’s place, or the office. It’s a term of endearment we use to wish our family, friends, and coworkers safe travels. As drivers, this is something we should – and often tend to – take to heart. However, the statistics on distracted driving tell a different story.

Around 3,000 people die each year from distracted driving. In 2019, another 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents, including pedestrians riding bike and walking.

With a little extra effort and knowledge, we can make the roads a safer place. To further our understanding of distracted driving, let’s look at the three types of distractions behind the wheel.

Visual Distractions

Eliminate visual distractions to drive safely Visual distractions are plentiful when it comes to driving. While vehicle manufacturers have worked to make cars more safe, some features have worked against this push. Take touchscreens for instance: With a lack of physical buttons, your eyes must leave the road when using a touchscreen to adjust the radio, climate controls, or GPS. There’s reportedly even data that suggests a driver using a touchscreen will inadvertently turn the wheel. Not good.

Another major visual distraction? Mobile phones (which actually can fall under all three types of distracted driving). The next time you think about sending a quick text while driving, consider this: While traveling at 55 miles per hour, sending a text is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed! That’s a scary proposition.

Other visual distractions include:

  • Doing hair or makeup
  • Looking for items in the car
  • Taking in the view

Drive safely by stowing away your cell phone and asking a passenger to handle controls like adjusting the radio, climate controls, and GPS. Any mobile GPS device should be mounted in a position that allows the driver to keep their head up and just a short glance away. And don’t forget, many new car steering wheels have radio controls on the steering wheel to help you stay focused on the road.

Manual Distractions

Hands at 10 and 2, right? Manual distractions are any acts that cause you to take one or both hands off the wheel. And as much as we like to buy into the idea of autonomous vehicles, car manufacturers still recommend keeping your hands on the wheel even while in “autopilot”. As explained by Tesla:

“Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment.”

Manual distractions include things like the following:

  • Eating or Drinking
  • Adjusting a child’s car seat or seatbelt
  • Doing a search of your purse or wallet

Drive safely by making sure you do preparations before you leave home. Make sure seats are adjusted, you are properly hydrated, and you have items like debit cards and ID’s easily accessible. We also recommend pulling over and taking five extra minutes to eat instead of doing so while on the road.

Cognitive Distractions

Drive Safely by avoiding cell phone useWe know it’s quite easy to get caught up in a daydream while driving, but operating a vehicle requires a great deal of mental workload. It’s important to understand that cognitive distractions can cause major impairments for a driver, like blindness to surroundings and slower reaction times. Some cognitive distractions include:

  • Road Rage
  • Tiredness (which may also be seen as a separate issue altogether)
  • Talking to another passenger
  • Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol (which is also a separate issue)

It’s important to note that “multitasking” is a myth. Instead of doing two things at once, attention switches quickly between the two tasks, assigning one task as primary and the other as secondary. The National Safety Council (NSC) explains that most driving situations that require well-practiced tasks (like following traffic lights) can typically be done so while doing something like listening to music. However, this can lead to a false sense of security, causing drivers to believe they can multitask effectively.

Drive safely by ensuring you are well-rested, taking deep breaths, and saving arguments and deep conversations for later. If you need to, find a safe spot to pull over and gather yourself.

Drive Safely

Let’s review. Drive safely by being well-rested, hydrated, and preparing things like your GPS and seat adjustments before you leave home. Have cash, ID’s, and debit cards ready for use if you’re planning on needing them. Stow away your cell phone – texts and phone calls are not worth your own life or the lives of others. Leaving just five minutes ahead of time can give you extra time to pull over to eat lunch and answer emails and text messages.

Remember: if you have a passenger riding along with you, ask them to handle any actions that may cause you to take your hands off wheel or lose focus on the road.

And since we’re an insurance agency, we know accidents do happen. Protect your car by contacting us today for an auto insurance quote. Our agents are experts when it comes to matching you with a policy that fits your needs and your budget.

Contact Us for a Quote

Distracted Driving Risks (Infographics)

Distracted driving not only affects the general public, but has a major impact in the business world too. Take a look at the 2022 Travelers Risk Index:

Risk Index for Businesses
Risk Index for Consumers
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