Have you ever noticed that when you are watching a subtitled movie you cannot read the subtitles and still focus on what is going on the screen? That’s because our brains are designed to concentrate on one cognitively demanding task at a time. Now imagine the danger you expose yourself to when you text, receive calls, watch video clips, groom, eat, or put on makeup while driving. If you have never thought about it, each time you try to multitask while driving, you become a distracted driver, and this puts your life and the lives of other people in danger.
According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2009, distracted driving-related accidents caused more than 5,500 deaths and more than 450, 000 injuries that year. There are reports that these numbers could be much higher given the fact that most local law enforcement agencies don’t document distraction factors in accident reports. This is sad, right? Fortunately, armed with the right information, you can avoid distracted driving-related crashes. How? Here is how.
Understanding Distracted Driving
Fully understanding what distracted driving is and how it can affect your ability to drive can help you prevent a serious crash. What is distracted driving? This refers to any activity that takes your focus off the road. However, since distractions are common in everyday driving, here are three distractions that could lead to an accident.
- Cognitive distractions- These distractions make you take your attention off what you are doing.
- Manual distractions- These distractions cause you to take your hands off the wheel.
- Visual distractions- These distractions cause you to take your eyes off the road.
Understanding these distractions and how they can be avoided will help you drive more safely.
Managing Your Distractions
While some distractions can be eliminated, most of them are here to stay, and the only thing you can do is to manage them properly. Make sure you turn your phone off or silence before you start driving. You should also ensure that your pets are secured properly before you start the engine. Women should also ensure they fix their makeup before they leave their house. Simply put, complete any necessary task before you start the engine. Managing your distractions will help you reduce the number activities that can take your focus off the road and reduce the risk of distracted driving-related accidents.
Using Your Phone In Emergency Situations Only
Most people, especially the millennials, pay more attention to their cell phones than anything else. They constantly check their devices, even when they are driving. If you are in this lot, you should know that cell phones cause most distracted driving-related crashes. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that you only use your phone for emergency purposes. Even then, it’s advisable to ensure you pull over safely to text or make a call. Some people think that hands-free devices are safe to use while driving, but that’s not true. The truth is that even hands-free devices can distract you and lead to an accident. Avoid making or receiving calls while driving, and you will be safe.
Are You Drowsy? Get Off The Road And Rest
It is important to note that sleepiness increases the risk of an accident by nearly four times. If you are drowsy, get off the road and rest. How can you tell that you are too tired to drive? Here are some signs:
- Difficulty focusing, heavy eyelids or frequent blinking,
- Rubbing your eyes or yawning repeatedly,
- Feeling restless and irritable,
- Trouble keeping your head up,
- Drifting from your lane or tailgating,
- Missing exits and traffic signs.
If you are going for a long road trip, ensure you have a partner to help you drive when you are tired. Besides, drinking caffeinated drink can also help you improve your alertness even though its effects will wear off after several hours.
Although there are other valuable tips that can help you avoid distractions while driving. However, the ones discussed here are time-tested and more effective. Apply them to prevent avoidable accidents.