3 Tips to Help You Avoid Distracted Driving
While drinking and driving gets most of the focus in the media, distracted driving is arguably just as dangerous (and far more common). Do you have a plan for dealing with it inside your own vehicle?
Distracted Driving: Just Say No
“Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving,” explains the NHTSA, which reported 3,447 deaths and 391,000 injuries involving distracted drivers on American roadways in 2015 alone.
When driving at 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for a period of five seconds is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. This makes it dangerous and deadly for drivers of all ages. But did you know it can also land you in legal trouble? Most states and jurisdictions around the country now have laws on distracted driving and cops can write you a pretty big ticket. There are even new technologies that make it possible for police officers to track your phone’s activity after the fact.
“Cellebrite is touting its technology as beneficial in a variety of traffic law enforcement scenarios,” attorney Doug Kans says. “A simple cable between a driver’s cell phone to the officer’s laptop can yield data as to whether the cell phone was used at the time of the accident.”
As Kans admits, there are some potential Fourth Amendment concerns with technology like this, but it’s bigger than this. If you drive while distracted, you will eventually get caught. Here are some tips to help you avoid distracted driving in the first place:
- Use Bluetooth for Talking
Ideally, you shouldn’t use your phone at all when driving. However, there are scenarios in which you need to take calls for one reason or another. In these situations, make sure you have a Bluetooth connection set up between your device and your car (or a wireless headset). This will dramatically cut down on the amount of time your focus is taken away from the roadway.
- Never Eat While Driving
There’s no excuse for eating while driving. An occasional granola bar or easy snack is fine, but don’t order a McDonald’s combo meal and attempt to drive while fumbling with greasy burgers and fries. You should never be in such a hurry that you can’t take five or six minutes to eat while waiting in a parking spot.
- Pull off the Road When You Get Drowsy
Research shows that 60 percent of adult drivers have admitted to feeling drowsy while driving. More than a third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel.
If you feel yourself getting tired, do something about it. A cup of black coffee or a quick stop to splash some water on your face and get the blood pumping might do the trick. If not, pull over and take a quick 15-minute nap. Nothing is so important that you should risk driving while drowsy. It leads to thousands of police-reported crashes each year and can be deadly for you and others on the road.
Stop Putting Yourself at Risk
Every single time you send a quick text message or try eating a fast food burger while behind the wheel, you’re putting yourself and others at risk. Distracted driving might not get the same attention that drunk driving does, but it’s just as dangerous and deadly. It’s time for you to develop a game plan for how you can defeat distracted driving before it defeats you.