Prevent Accidents by Avoiding Driver Distractions

Prevent Accidents by Avoiding Driver Distractions

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for the past decade, distracted driving has taken U.S. roadways by storm, endangering not only the distracted drivers, but their passengers, pedestrians and others using the road. When you are behind the wheel, the focus should be on one task: safe driving. Anytime attention shifts from driving, you are distracted.

There are three main types of distractions:

  • Visual – taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manuel – taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive – taking your mind off what you are doing.

Some ways to avoid distractions while driving include:

  • Prep Before Driving: Set up your GPS, adjust mirrors, seat position, and climate controls, and secure loose items before you start driving. This minimizes the need to make adjustments while on the road.
  • Silence Your Phone: Turn off your phone’s ringer or switch it to silent mode before driving to avoid being tempted by incoming calls or notifications. Consider using a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature if available.
  • Use Hands-Free Devices: If you need to make or receive calls while driving, use hands-free options such as Bluetooth earpieces or speakerphone mode. Avoid holding your phone to your ear, as this can be distracting and unsafe.
  • Avoid Eating and Drinking: Eating or drinking while driving can take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road. If you need to eat or drink, pull over to a safe location to do so.
  • Manage Emotional Distractions: Avoid engaging in emotionally charged conversations or arguments while driving, as these can impair your ability to focus. If you feel overwhelmed emotionally, take a moment to compose yourself before continuing to drive.
  • Limit In-Car Activities: Minimize in-car activities that can take your attention away from driving, such as adjusting radio stations, changing CDs or playlists, or programming GPS devices, while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Pull Over if Necessary: If you need to address a task that cannot wait, such as responding to a text message or addressing a crying child in the backseat, safely pull over to the side of the road before doing so.
  • Stay Focused: Keep your focus on the road and avoid distractions such as looking at scenery, reading billboards or watching roadside attractions. Remember that driving requires your full attention at all times.
  • Plan Ahead: Plan your route and schedule ahead of time to minimize the need for multitasking or last-minute decisions while driving. This allows you to concentrate on the task of driving safely.

By implementing these strategies, drivers can reduce the risk of distractions and maintain their focus on the road, helping to ensure a safer driving experience for themselves and others on the road.