Distracted driving used to just mean things like eating lunch or changing the radio station while driving. Today, distracted driving has reached a whole new level of activity that can potentially lure someone’s eyes away from the road.
As a new school year begins, now is a good time to think about the problem of distracted driving. Consider your own habits and talk to the younger drivers in your life about texting and driving.
On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text message. That might not seem very long, but did you know that at 55 miles per hour a car travels the length of a football field during that five second interval? A lot can happen during those five seconds of distracted driving, including a life-changing accident.
The more we rely on smart phone technology, the greater the temptation becomes to focus on a screen instead of the road. How can we take practical steps to avoid the perils of distracted driving? Here are seven ideas:
- Silence is golden. Take a moment before pulling out of your parking spot to silence your phone. Once you are on the road, it will be easier to keep your mind off of your phone if it is not humming, vibrating, or otherwise beckoning you.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Putting your phone in your purse, glovebox, or storage console is another way to help reduce the odds that you will be distracted by it.
- No red light sneaks. A lot of drivers like to sneak a quick look at their phones while stopped at a red light. The problem with this is that if you are not looking at the light, you will not know when it changes.
- Make it known. Let everyone you call or text with know that you have a strict “no phone” policy while you are driving. That way you will not have to worry about someone thinking you are ignoring them.
- Pull over. If it cannot wait make sure to pull over before using your phone. There are usually plenty of parking lots around that provide a great place to stop and do what you need to do.
- Plan ahead. Before you press the ignition button or turn the key, do what you need to do. Let mom know you are leaving. Type your destination into your GPS app. Whatever you feel you need to do, do not do it as you are pulling out onto the street.
- Get a connected vehicle. If you have a career that involves a good deal of car travel, consider investing in a car with onboard technology that connects to your phone. Advanced voice features will allow you to communicate or use GPS features without having to take your eyes off of the road.
While everyone likes to save time by multi-tasking, it is important to understand that multi-tasking on the road too often means distracted driving. The time saved could turn into a life lost – in just an instant.
As you focus on eliminating distracted driving habits, make sure you also correct any low-tech bad behaviors, too. Change the radio station, adjust the seat, get your sunglasses out of your purse…do it all before you even start the car. Stay safe!