April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so this is a great time to learn more about the topic and start practicing safe driving. Driving with your full and undivided attention is crucial for keeping you and others on the road safe
Each state has their own specific definition of distracted driving, but this explanation from the NHTSA concisely sums it up.
This includes eating, talking, texting, talking to others in the car, adjusting entertainment, and inputting the navigation.
Each year, approximately 3,000 people lose their lives to distracted driving, whether they are the ones behind the wheel or caught in the tragedy.
Although some of these may seem so simple, they really do take away your attention from the road and put you in danger. To put it into perspective, looking away from the road for just 5 seconds, driving about 55 mph is the same as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Here are some tips to make it easier!
Silence your phone
Our phones are a huge distraction, especially with notification alerts as you drive. You can put your iPhone on the DRIVING Focus mode and adjust the settings to auto-reply and only allow messages from important contacts.
If you really want to eliminate any potential distractions, you can shut off your phone completely or store it away to avoid temptations of reaching for it.
Adjust before driving
With so many buttons and settings at our fingertips on the dash, it can be tempting to fiddle with them while driving. But it’s a better idea to adjust all your settings once you sit down so you can keep your attention focused on the road when you’re actively driving.
Use passengers wisely
If you have passengers in the car make sure they are helping you, rather than distracting you. For example, if you need directions to your destination, ask them to provide you with navigation. If you have an urgent text or email to respond to, pass them your phone and ask them to type out and send your message for you! This way, your eyes and hands are free to focus on the act of driving.
Keep volume low
Although it can be fun jamming out to music in the car, incredibly loud volumes or shocking sounds can be very distracting for drivers. Opt for familiar music at an appropriate volume to keep everyone entertained and safe!
Stay alert while driving
This may seem simple but if you are tired or in pain, consider asking others to drive or using a ride sharing app to request a driver. If you are feeling drowsy, pull over in a safe location for a quick nap or stop for a caffeinated drink. If you’re in pain, consider taking some pain relief medication (as long as they don’t conflict with driving) and do not return to the road until you are feeling better.
For long drives or road trips, you might not have the time for long breaks. Instead, you can use the alterme® to recenter your focus if you begin dozing off behind the wheel.
Be an advocate
You might be wondering what others can do to increase safety on the road. While most of the responsibility falls on the driver, passengers can act as a reminder to stay focused. If you see a driver reaching for their phone, or taking their attention away from the road – remind them to keep their focus on the task of driving. Also try to keep distractions, such as yelling or large movements to a minimum.