Car Safety: Distracted Driving

Last week concluded the series about special activities to keep yourself and your dog busy and happy. Several of these activities meant going a distance by car. This led me to think once more about safety in the car. However, unlike my first series, these next few posts will not focus on accessories that can make driving safer. Instead I’ll be looking at how you can accomplish that by changing your own behavior. A lot of road accidents happen because people are distracted and miss something or don’t have sufficient time to respond to danger because of it. So in this series I will be talking about ways of avoiding distraction.

Trouble ahead if you don't pay attention
Trouble ahead if you don’t pay attention

First, let’s start with the obvious one: use of cell phones and smartphones. Some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking that you are tired of hearing about this. However, statistics show that a significant number of accidents are still caused by cell phone use behind the wheel. And yet, most people are aware of how dangerous this behavior is, but for some reason they feel invincible and think that they will never be in an accident because of it. They are wrong, so put that phone away and keep your eyes on the road!

Related to cell phone use is fiddling with the GPS or the in car entertainment system. When you really want to change the route or destination the GPS should take, try finding a safe place to pull over and do so. Or better yet, ask your shotgun passenger to do it. This way, you can keep your eyes on the road and keep your attention focused on the current situation and what other road users are doing.

Cell phones, the number one distraction
Cell phones, the number one distraction

Fiddling with the entertainment system can be a no-go too. It’s all right to change the radio, if you can do it quickly and preferably without looking for the correct button. But connecting your phone or any other device via USB, inserting or removing a CD or tape are all things that should be done at a standstill.

These are just a few tips on how you can avoid being distracted behind the wheel, next week we’ll be looking at some more ways, including some tips for parents, with children of human and canine variety. Until then, drive safely!

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