Distracted driving has become an unfortunate, yet ubiquitous part of society. In 2015, distracted driving caused 3,477 fatalities, making it a particularly lethal bad habit. Despite what many people think, distracted driving isn’t isolated to just texting. It can involve anything from applying makeup to eating a burger.
Here in Detroit, police have been stepping up enforcement of distracted driving. However, parents also have an important role to play as their teens learn to drive.
In order to keep yourself and those around you safe while on the road, here are some tips to help you avoid distracted driving.
Turn the phone off
Even if you pride yourself on being a present and undistracted driver, a ringing phone, even if only to silence it, could draw your attention long enough to cause a crash. Your best defense against becoming distracted by your cell phone is to turn it off completely. It can be hard to separate yourself from your device, but it might be the difference between a safe car ride and a particularly disastrous one.
Secure your belongings
How often does something go flying across your car or roll underneath your seat after you hit the brakes? If you’re like the majority of the population, then it probably happens quite often. Reaching for these items can take your eyes off the road as well as put you in an odd driving position. A good way to prevent this from happening is to ensure that all of your belongings are secured before you get on the road. If there are things you need during your trip, be sure to put them in a place you can easily reach without becoming compromised.
Don’t eat and drive
It can be tempting to pull into the nearest drive-through and get a burger to go, but even something as seemingly innocent as fast-food can be enough to get you into an accident. There are roughly six million car accidents in the United States each year, and grabbing that bite to eat on the road could be the reason you add to that statistic. Choose to eat in your parked car or at the establishment to avoid mishaps in the car.
Keep the noise to a minimum
Sometimes, becoming distracted isn’t just what you do while you drive, but the environment in which you drive. Keeping the volume of the radio down can help you focus on the road, as well as limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle. More people typically adds more noise in the car and can add other types of distractions as well.
Leave the multi-tasking for outside the car
If something comes up during your trip that requires your attention, pull off to the side of the road to address it. Driving is a task that requires your full attention, so it’s best to do any additional activities while safely parked or out of the car.
Don’t rely on hands-free devices
Most people will tell you that hands-free technology is the best way to combat distracted driving, but it too can take some of your attention away from the task at hand. Use these devices sparingly, and ask passengers to make phone calls, respond to texts, adjust the radio, and any other tasks that you might use hands-free technology for.
Distracted driving doesn’t always end up causing a fatal accident, but it can still cause significant damage, both to property and people. Even the smallest of injuries resulting from a distracted driving incident can end up costing you more than you bargained for. On top of insurance rates and possible property damage costs, the average trip to the emergency room can cost a total cost of $1,318 and a mean cost of $615, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel survey. So to protect yourself physically, financially, and even legally, avoid distracted driving as much as you can.