Distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of car accidents today. On average, it accounts for about 17% of all car crashes. Defined as any activity that diverts from the driver's attention, distracted driving can be caused by many things besides texting. Besides visual distractions, there are also cognitive and manual distractions that can also inhibit a driver.
Accidents due to distracted driving are completely avoidable and can be prevented with several, easy steps. Before you head out on your next road trip, it's important to educate yourself on how to reduce the chances of becoming a distracted driver. Here are 10 behaviors that can cause distracted driving accidents and how to avoid them.
1. Secure loose possessions
Whether it's a pair of sneakers or a piece of luggage, it's important to have all possessions secured as bumpy roads and sharp turns can cause items to shift. An item falling can not only disrupt your concentration while driving but could also potentially injure yourself or a passenger.
2. Make all adjustments before taking off
Be sure that your mirrors, seats, GPS and climate controls are all set before you leave your parking spot. By adjusting all of these before leaving the parking spot, you will not have to worry about taking your attention off of the road to adjust while you are driving.
3. Save getting ready for before or after your drive
Personal grooming is one of the most common driving distractions that result in an accident. Take care of any hair styling, makeup application or any other preparations before you leave or after you arrive at your destination. According to Seattle distracted driving accidents attorney, Janelle Bailey, "Distracted drivers can cause high-speed collisions, T-bone accidents, or rear-end collisions".
4. Put aside electronic distractions
If you find yourself tempted to look at your phone or other electronics while you're behind the wheel, put them in a place where you won't have easy access to them, such as in the backseat or the trunk. Another option would be setting your phone to Airplane Mode or using an app that will silence all messages while you are driving.
5. Don’t drive while drowsy
Avoid driving late at night or after you've engaged in strenuous activity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy "...is dangerous because sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol".
6. Plan your route ahead of time
Enter the address for your destination in your GPS before you head out or enlist your passenger to read the directions for you. By having everything set up before you put the car in drive, you'll be able to focus on your drive and get to your destination safely and quickly.
7. Driving isn’t the time for daydreamingThink Thinking Person Young Person Thinking
Save your daydreams and problem solving for when you're in a safe space. Allowing your mind to wander or focusing on problems will take your mind off of the road and potentially cause an accident.
8. Practice patienceUnsplash
Sitting in traffic is one of the least enjoyable parts of driving for most people. While you're stuck at a standstill, do not get frustrated or angry at how fast or how slow other cars are moving. It's important to stay calm and focused on the task at hand, as well as the cars around you.
9. Save the leftovers for later
Eating while driving can prove to be problematic even for the best drivers. According to a 2014 study, "Drivers with food or drink distractions are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a collision." Put takeout bags in the backseat instead of the passenger seat to avoid the temptation of reaching over.
10. Declutter your car
A car filled with trash, clothing, sports equipment, and other random items can be very distracting when it comes to driving. Make it a point to regularly clean out your car at least once a week to prevent it from building up with items that don't belong in a vehicle.
There are enough distractions on the road and the inside of your car should not be one of them. Make it a point to keep your space clean and your focus solely on the road in front of you by integrating one or all of these tips. Remember, getting to your destination safely is always the most important thing.