Driving Distractions You May Not Realize
A distracted few seconds in the car can lead to disaster. You might glance at your phone, reach for your drink, fiddle with the radio or pet your four-legged passenger.
Distracted driving is both disturbingly common and severely dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control, distracted driving causes about nine deaths and more than 1,000 injuries every day.
To decrease your risk of veering off the road or into another vehicle, learn more about driving distractions you may be falling victim to without realizing it.
You would not read a book while driving. Scrolling through email at a stop sign, watching a video at a red light or checking a texts at an intersection is no different.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds when sending or reading a text message. At 55 mph, that is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes shut.
To avoid driving distractions, place your phone in a spot that is not easily visible or accessible. Use a hands-free device, put it on silent, or turn it off.
Eating and Drinking
The NHTSA says 80% of car accidents and 65% of near misses happen when distracted drivers are more focused on food than the road.
If you feel a snack attack coming on, pull over or wait until you are home to eat. Also, imagine hitting a pothole and hot coffee splashing onto your lap, possibly to the pain of third-degree burns.
Adjusting the Radio
Cranking the volume too loud not only draws more of your focus to the song, but also prevents you from hearing a honking horn or emergency vehicle siren. Taking your eyes off the road for less than a second can significantly impact how quickly you hit the brakes in an emergency.
Before hitting the road, settle on your music playlist or radio station. If you need to adjust it, take advantage of routine stops, or ask your passenger to operate the controls. Same for temperature controls and GPS.
It’s natural to talk to passengers, however the risk of a crash increases when you focus more on your friends than your surroundings. As the car czar, keep passenger count to a minimum, enforce seat belt laws and ensure passengers are not too rowdy.
Unlike humans, pets enjoy moving around the car or sitting on your lap. When in the car, always secure pets in a seat or crate.
Decrease Your Risk
Any distraction, regardless of how small, quick, or harmless it may seem, can drastically increase your odds of getting into an accident. Ordinary tasks are sometimes the most dangerous culprits behind nasty accidents. When you recognize these distractors and alter your behavior, you can create a safer defensive driving environment for everyone.
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