We’ve all been there, driving down the road, when suddenly, your phone buzzes, and you can’t resist the urge to check the notification. Or maybe you’re enjoying a snack and having a passionate discussion with your passenger. Yes, these are all good examples of distracted driving, and they’re more common than you might think.
Maybe you’ve had an unfavorable outcome, you’ve seen the effect distracted driving has had on another unfortunate driver, or you just wish to find ways to prevent it before it becomes a problem for you too. Come along.
What the Stats on Distracted Driving Say
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in the U.S. in 2019 alone. That’s 3,142 people who didn’t make it home because someone couldn’t put their phone down or focus on the road. It’s a grim reminder that distracted driving is a major problem, and it affects us all. So, this is serious business.
Now, here’s something very fundamental: you need to resist the urge to take calls and check those tempting notifications on your phone while driving. The best way is to silence your notification, and that’s very easy to do, both on Android and iPhone. However, iPhone features can be a bit tricky, so here’s how to silence notifications on iPhone. This is very important to your safety. You have to understand that no notification is more important than your safety. It will be there waiting for you after you’ve arrived at your destination. If it’s so urgent, pull over when it’s safe and check what the notification is about.
Your brain cannot focus on driving and doing something else at the same time. Since staying safe is the most important thing at that point, focus on driving. Put your phone on silent so you won’t be tempted to take calls, and turn off notifications while driving.
This is key to avoiding distracted driving.
Other things distracting us apart from calls and texts
Eating and Drinking: The drive-thru may be convenient, but scarfing down a burger while driving can lead to accidents.
In-Car Entertainment: Adjusting the radio, fiddling with the navigation system, or watching a movie (yes, some people do that) can be major distractions.
Conversations: We love talking to our passengers, but animated discussions can steal our focus from the road.
Daydreaming: Sometimes, our minds just wander. We start thinking about everything except the road ahead.
Why Distracted Driving is Dangerous
So, why is distracted driving such a big deal? Well, the risks are real, and they can have serious consequences:
- Increased Reaction Time: If your attention is elsewhere, your reaction time to unexpected situations on the road – like a sudden stop or a pedestrian crossing – is significantly slower.
- Reduced Field of Vision: When you’re not looking at the road, you’re missing out on crucial information. This means you might not see that car changing lanes or that cyclist coming up on your right.
- Impaired Decision-Making: Distracted drivers often make poor decisions because they’re not processing information properly. This can lead to dangerous maneuvers, like running red lights or not yielding the right-of-way.
Preventing Distracted Driving
We’ve got some tips to keep you, your passengers, and other road users safe:
- Turn off notifications. Seriously, there’s no text, call, or notification worth risking your life for. Put your phone on silent, use a hands-free system, or stow it out of reach while you’re driving.
- If you need directions or have to make a call, do it before you start driving. Set your GPS, make those important calls, and get your playlist ready.
- Eating while driving may be tempting, but it’s a recipe for disaster. If you’re hungry, pull over to enjoy your meal.
- Make your car a low-distraction zone. Set up your entertainment, climate control, and navigation before you hit the road.
- Keep your mind on driving. If your mind starts to wander, gently steer your thoughts back to the road.
- If your car has voice-command features, use them to send texts, make calls, or change the music. It’s hands-free and safer. Use this sparingly.
- If you need to take a call or handle something that can’t wait, find a safe place to pull over. Your safety and the safety of others are worth the extra few minutes.
Be the Change
We all have a part to play in making the roads safer. By practicing safe and focused driving, we set an example for others and contribute to a culture of responsible driving.
Note that the rules are there not just to exert control over you. They are there for your own safety and that of other road users who you owe a duty of care.
So, the next time you’re tempted to send that “LOL” text while driving, think about the potential “OMG” outcome. Stay safe, stay focused, and let’s make our roads a better place for everyone.