Distracted driving is not a new topic. Even before the invention of the cell phone, there have been plenty of dangerous mental distractions for drivers to experience: Kids in the back seat misbehaving, eating lunch, reading, grooming, gaping at a traffic accident or looking at a new billboard off the highway. Driver distractions are endless.
Distracted driving is a deadly behavior. Latest statistics report over 3,000 fatalities and 424,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving (NHTSA). Many believe that distracted driving accidents also are underreported. The best way to end distracted driving is to educate drivers (and passengers) about the dangers it poses.
Here are some tips for managing the most common driver distractions.
1. Don’t be afraid to just turn off your phone. Replying to a text message can wait. Let a call go into voice mail instead of answering it. Remember Illinois law prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones, texting or using other electronic communications while operating a motor vehicle. Even using hands-free technology is considered a distraction and can be dangerous. It is best practice to pull over into a safe area if you need to make a call.
2. Let your passengers do some of the work. If you’re the driver your job is to drive the car! Have your passenger run the radio, program the GPS, return the text message or insert the DVD. Don’t multi-task when driving.
3. Plan before you leave to focus on driving. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
4. Mind the kids. Plan ahead to predict anything that they might need and separate (if possible) to avoid any behavior conflicts.
5. Secure the pets. Make sure your furry friend is properly restrained.
Together, we can help save lives. Keep your eyes on the road!
Until next month… Stay aware and stay safe.