When it comes to driving distractions there are four common ones that come to mind: Food and drink, cell phones and other people. Each individual category has a lot of other sub texts which will be talked about later in this article.
So is this distracted driving a serious problem in the United States? You bet. Distracted driving is what causes more than nine vehicle accidents a day, 1060 of which results in physical injury according to an article on the CDC web site. The same site also suggests that drivers under the age of 20 are more susceptible to a wreck than the rest of us. Which leads to the next question.
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How does one avoid all these distractions? The answer for each distraction is a little bit different.
If you are going to eat drink while driving, first of all it absolutely should never be alcohol. Most states have open container laws which prohibit drivers from having open bottles of alcohol in their vehicle while driving.
Other versions of drinks you may be able to consume while driving are water, sports drinks, juice and soda. If you insist on doing so try to keep it for red lights and stop signs. Doing it while your car is in motion while take your mind off the road and can lead to a wreck.
Only eat finger food and something that is not too messy. Trying to pick something up with a fork or spoon or trying to cut something is too time consuming and takes your attention off the road for too long. Even if you are at a stop sign or red light you will hold up traffic. You should only try to consume food when you are stopped at red lights and stop signs and you see that you have to sit there a minute.
If you want to be safer than that for food then you should wait till you get to your common destination to consume your food or beverage. Each time you take your mind off the road you are only increasing the chances you are going to get in a wreck.
The most dangerous form of cell phone talking is when you physically pick up your phone, put it to your ear and start talking. There are a couple of reasons why this is dangerous: 1. If you put your cell phone to your ear this means you must take your eyes away from the road long enough to pick your phone up and answer it. It can be even more distracting off the phone falls from where it was initially or you drop it; 2. You are taking one hand off the steering wheel which could make the car harder to control, depending on your abilities. 3 Your attention is probably more with the person with whom you are talking more than the road.
So what has been done about it? Some states have started enacting laws against talking while driving and some car companies have even tried to help as well. Some car companies such as Ford and Nissan have installed versions of blue tooth in their radios where you can program your phone to work with your car. The major advantage to being able to do this is you don’t have to pick up your phone to use it because you can hear the other person talking through the radio if you have a phone which can be blue tooth enabled.
However, there are downsides to using this type of technology. Even something as simple as not having your phone set to blue tooth can cause your phone not to work with the blue tooth-enabled system in your car and you are back to square one.
Just like with talking, texting is just as, if not more dangerous than talking while driving. Most states also have various laws against texting while driving. In a matter of fact, it has become so dangerous and common that ATT decided to launch an entire campaign against it. Depending on your car, it may also be possible to use blue tooth devices to hear and speak texts while driving. But again one wrong setting and it won’t work and you are back to square one. Now on to other type of distractions.
a. Person in the front seat
Even something as simple as looking at the other person can be a distraction while talking if it takes your eyes off the road. If you end up getting in a big fight with the other person it is a good idea to take a deep breath for a minute.
If it is something major you are talking about or if you are getting in a big fight it may be a good idea to pull over the on the side of the road and finish talking about whatever it is you are talking about. If you try to pick something up for a person wait until you are at a complete stop and if it will take you a minute wait until you get to a light that just turned red and don’t put your foot back on the gas until you have picked said object up.
b. Person in the back seat
If you have kids, more than likely they like to show you funny faces, pictures they have drawn or some other form of a masterpiece they have done with whatever gift they have. If you have to do anything more than take a minute to look into your rear view mirror, chances are, whatever it is you need to do for the person in the back seat you should either pull over for or wait until you get to your desired destination.
The basic danger of driving with maps is if you have to look at it while driving. Taking your eyes off the road to look at a map can cause the same dangers as talking on a cell phone.
There are four basic things you can do to avoid this common distraction:
- 1. Take someone with you who knows how to get to where you are going;
- 2. know at least how to get to the next place you have to stop and then look at the map then;
- 3. Some smart phones have turn by turn voice directions and depending on your car, you may be able to utilize that feature.
If you choose to make sure it is available ahead of time, make sure you know to use it and double check your destination before leaving.
So, in conclusion what are things that distract you from driving? The answer is simple. Anything that takes your eyes off the road.
By: Erich Heinlein