Distracted Driving: Dangers and Precautions

Distracted Driving: Dangers and Precautions

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  recently reported that in just the first half of 2021, the number of people who died in motor vehicle crashes had increased 18.4% over the previous year.

With collisions and vehicle-related fatalities on the rise, driver’s safety and awareness on the road are more important than ever. In this article, our focus is on one of the top causes of motor vehicle crashes, distracted driving.  You’ll learn the different types of distractions and some tips to help you avoid one of the most dangerous distractions almost all of us face.

Understanding Distractions

We all know that driving with distractions makes us less safe behind the wheel, yet all of us are guilty of some level of distracted driving. Some distractions (like noisy kids in the backseat) are unavoidable and others (like having music playing) are considered enjoyable. Many people are so used to driving distracted they don’t think twice about doing it. But consider this for a moment. . . according to the NHTSA, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

There are three major types of distractions: cognitive, visual, and manual. In other words, taking your mind or eyes off the road and taking your hand(s) off the wheel. Some examples include eating while driving, having an argument or intense conversation, and doing makeup while driving. Even just driving when your emotions are high can be a dangerous cognitive distraction.

Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Important precautions to reduce phone distraction

One distraction that meets all three criteria (cognitive, visual, and manual) and is one of the top causes of distraction related accidents is your phone. Here are some things we can all do to reduce our risk of distraction by our devices:
  1. Check your mail, your text messages, or whatever else you might be tempted to peek at BEFORE you start your car. If you have the urge to check while driving, remind yourself that you’ve already looked and can check when you get there

  2. Turn off notifications or set your phone on Do Not Disturb. Put it away in your bag or console so it’s out of sight if possible. If you need to have your phone for navigation or music, be sure to set it up to work before you start moving and only use it for that until you reach your destination
  3. Don’t plan meetings or important conversations during times when you know you will be driving. It can be tempting when you have a jam-packed day to squeeze meetings into your travel times. However, you won’t be able to focus 100% on your meeting and you will be creating a huge cognitive distraction for yourself. If you have to take a meeting in your car, do it in the parking lot.

  4. Don’t get behind the wheel when your emotions are high. Already driving? Pull over until you feel more in control. If you have somewhere you absolutely have to be and can’t calm down, call and let them know you aren’t safe to drive. Other options if you are upset and haven’t already left are to get a ride, either from a friend, family member, or paid driving service.
woman on cell phone before driving safely

5.  Understand that hands-free use of your phone is still dangerous. If your car supports bluetooth, hands-free use of your phone is better than having your phone in hand if you absolutely have to use it. However, be aware that according to AAA (American Automobile Association), it is still just as dangerous in terms of a distraction. Put your phone out of reach and keep your hands on the wheel.

Remember, that text or phone call can wait and there is nothing you are going to miss on social media in the time it takes to get to your destination. If you want to listen to a podcast or music, create a playlist before you get in the car so you don’t have to touch your phone while your vehicle is in motion. If you use your phone for GPS, set up your destination when your vehicle is not moving. Turn off notifications so you aren’t tempted to check them while driving.

Tips for Concerned Parents

If you are a parent, you know how important it is to teach your teen the importance of driving safely. A key part of teaching safe driving without distractions is demonstrating it when your teen is in the car with you. That way it’s not a situation of “do as I say, not as I do.” It includes always wearing your seatbelt, driving at or below posted speeds, following the law, and minimizing distractions. Remember, by doing this you aren’t just teaching – you are keeping them, yourself, and others safer on the road.

Professional driver training can help cement these great habits you are teaching your new or soon-to-be driver. Additionally, it helps drivers at any age be better able to handle a vehicle that, let’s face it, is surrounded by a lot of distracted drivers.

Remember, with collisions and vehicle-related fatalities on the rise, driver’s safety and awareness on the road are more important than ever. Especially for teens who are at the highest risk and most likely to be involved in a motor vehicle-related incident.


Parents teaching their teen safe driving skills

Safety and Control with Professional Training

At MasterDrive, our training helps increase confidence and improve reaction times behind the wheel. Our graduates are taught through repetition and hands-on coaching how to respond to various driving situations. In a dangerous situation, you have sometimes a fraction of a second to respond. The repetitions our graduates receive mean that they respond in a dangerous situation quickly and instinctively. In our experience, it’s this kind of instinctive reaction that saves lives.

You can teach your child the right things to do, but , let’s face it, you can’t control your teen’s choices when they aren’t with you. You can’t always know whether or not they may be on their phone or in a car full of distractions while driving and that’s scary. However, you can ensure that they have the professional training that gives them the instincts that increase their chances of staying safe on the road. Our team can help! Click the button below to see the different packages available for you or give us a call today.

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