Ever tried to eat a hamburger
while driving? What about trying to separate your two fighting kids
in the back seat? Ever reached down to pick up a CD that fell on
the floor while driving? These are just a few of the most common
We all become more comfortable driving as the years progress,
but unfortunately many of us become a little too confident. Your
license to drive is not a license to drive while simultaneously
putting on your makeup and shoving down a quick breakfast.
Let's take a look at some common distractions. Are you guilty
of performing any of these activities while driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that distracted
driving causes around 25 percent of the auto accidents in the U.S.
each year. That's nearly 1.6 million accidents annually caused by
many of the things we discussed above, most of which are so easily
preventable. Try to avoid letting distractions take your attention
away from what you should be doing, concentrating on driving and protecting
the lives of you and your passengers.
- Outside Distractions. Whether it's a restaurant
that just opened, a human billboard pointing the way to new homes,
a beautiful rainbow or a bad accident, most of us just cannot
resist the urge to take a peek, even when we should be concentrating
on the road.
- Sicknesses. A sudden onset of sneezes, a bad
cough and searching your car for a tissue to catch that runny
nose are all examples of how being sick can distract you from
driving. Not to mention the fact that most of us are not at our
most alert when we are sick. That's why it is extra important
to pay attention to the road and to wait until you are stopped
at a traffic light to reach for that tissue. Of course we can't
predict sneezes, but make sure you quickly look back to the road
after you sneeze.
- Inspector Gadget. Cars these days often have
more controls than a small plane. Besides the obvious stereo and
temperature controls, many cars have features such as navigation
systems and televisions. CD players can be especially distracting,
as it takes at least one hand off the wheel to pick out a CD and
put it in, especially if your pack of CDs is on the ground and
you have to reach for them…which brings us to…
- Reaching for the Unreachable. We are all guilty
of this at one time or another. For some reason, we just HAVE
to have that book in the back seat in our hands now. But this
is one of the worst driver distractions…as it usually means
that our hand or hands are off the wheel AND our eyes are off
the road. Next time, try to make yourself wait to grab that errant
CD until you are stopped at a traffic light. Or, if it's safe,
pull over and grab whatever you need.
- Eating and Drinking. One of the most common
driver distractions is eating and/or drinking while driving. These
days, we all seem to be in a rush, and many of us try to scarf
down our breakfast or lunch on our way to work. Some of the worst
foods to eat while driving are coffee/tea (a hot spill on your
leg will certainly distract you), messy hamburgers or sandwiches
that drop stuff all over you while you are driving, anything fried
that leaves you with greasy hands that could slip off the steering
wheel, and, similarly, things like chocolate and jelly doughnuts
that leave your hands sticky or slick. Try to avoid eating on
the road whenever possible. If you are in a rush, grab a quick
bite and eat it in the parking lot before leaving.
- Distracting Discussions. Ever gotten in a
heated debate while driving? What about listening and intervening
as your children in the backseat start arguing? Interaction with
your passengers is another common driving distraction. This can
especially be a problem for new drivers, who should focus all
their attention on their driving and not on their passengers.
- Beautification. Again, you're running late.
You forgot to put on your mascara/brush your hair/shave. What
better place to do it then in the car, right? Wrong! Things that
involve tools not only take your hands off the wheel and your
eyes off the road, they also have the potential to hurt you and
cause further distraction. If you are a woman putting on your
mascara or a man shaving, and you have to brake suddenly, think
of the injuries that could ensue!
- Cell Phones. You knew we'd get to this one
eventually. Cell phone use in cars has been a hot topic ever since
cell phones started becoming popular. We all know that talking
on our phones can distract our attention from driving. We all
know that we should use hands-free devices whenever possible (although
these can still be a distraction, just like the distracting discussions
topic above). Yet a large percentage of us still talk on our cell
phones frequently while driving. Try to keep your cell phone use
while driving limited to emergencies only. If you get a call you
really want to take, pull over in a safe spot and have your conversation.