Getting behind the wheel of any vehicle and driving is something most people don’t even think twice about. It’s second nature. The reality though is that driving is a risky business and requires full concentration. Drivers who divide their attention, because they’re on the phone or distracted by something in the vehicle, significantly increase their chance of being involved in an accident.
We need to change our behaviour to help stay safe whilst on the road. Not only are some in-vehicle distractions illegal, many can be avoided by being prepared.
There are three main types of in-vehicle distraction:
- Visual – taking your eyes of the road
- Manual – taking your hands of the wheel
- Cognitive – diverting you attention from the road
Plan ahead and make sure your journey is as comfortable and as safe as possible.
Your emotions play a big part on how you react and this is no different when driving. Those driving while sad, angry or agitated may have far less control over the vehicle and observations maybe reduced.
Re-fuelling – food, drink and smoking
It’s the same as using a mobile phone – it means at least one hand off the wheel. We get that life can be hectic and we are more often than not doing things on the go, however spills, crumbs, unwrapping packaging can only mean our attention is elsewhere.
Whether it’s the radio or a CD – the type of music can affect your driving. Your driving soundtrack should not be the same as your running tunes! We can easily get lost in the moment – paying less attention to the road ahead, road signs and other road users. It’s not just the song either, the volume can also drown out sirens of emergency vehicles, which should also be seen and heard. There’s a place for heavy metal but maybe not whilst driving!
Many modern vehicles have built-in technology designed to make the driver safer or more comfortable. But some in-vehicle tech can be a dangerous distraction. Using a digital dashboard to check messages, social media or control the vehicle’s radio or air conditioning can all lead to drivers taking their eyes off the road.
Cats and dogs – we’re not talking about the weather
Keep yourself and your pet safe by making sure they are secure in the backseat before you set off. Never drive with your pet on your lap!
Reaching for things on the backseat
Reaching for something on the backseat can also increase the risk of having an accident. But seeing as you’re not using your phone, eating or drinking – what else could you possibly need?
Passengers, especially the younger ones
Whether they’ve dropped something, trying to have a conversation with you or becoming restless – make sure your attention remains on the road. Turning around or turning your head to have a chat is extremely dangerous – remember it’s best to pull over (if safe and legal) to sort out younger passengers.
Putting make-up on
Finally, applying make-up is a startlingly common distraction for drivers. Applying make-up or shaving behind the wheel, even when is traffic, presents a number of hazards to you and other road users.
Distracted driving is dangerous driving
So, it turns out mobile phones are not the only distraction risk for drivers – even the simplest of things could lead to a major accident. To avoid accidents when you’re driving, stay focussed, keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and avoid doing anything in the vehicle that could take your mind off your driving. Oh, and make sure you’ve got a chilled out soundtrack to listen to!