Tuesday, July 30, 2013

4 Ways to Combat Distracted Driving...for Everyone's Safety

This post brought to you by Insurance Hunter. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a parent I take all precautions in making sure my kids are safe when we get in the car. I have bought the correct car seats for their size/age as they've grown and even taken them to car seat clinics to ensure their correct installation. We never drive without them safely buckled in but while I am doing my best to protect them should we ever be in an accident my goal is to do my best to drive safely and ensure that we never have to put those precautions to the test.

This summer we've spent a lot of time on the road and I have noticed without fail that every time we get in the car there are people on the road who are multi-tasking. I cringe to see transport truck drivers texting while they drive, people applying makeup, and even people reading newspapers while behind the wheel. With 8 out of every 10 accidents being a result of distracted driving, it is an issue that as drivers we collectively need to stop.
But it isn't just cell phones that are a cause of distraction. Kids, food and friends can also be distractions when you are behind the wheel. The infographic below by Insurance Hunter shows the 4 main types of distractions drivers face on a daily basis.

Stop Distracted Driving - An infographic by the team at Stop Distracted Driving


How we can combat these distractions:

1. Auditory Distractions:

  • PROBLEM: While music can be entertaining while you drive, other noises such as fighting kids, loud aggressive music, and questions from the back seat can cause drivers to lose their focus on the road and lead to many accidents.
  • SOLUTION:  Instead, make sure you have some activities packed to keep the kids busy. Books, colouring, magnetic games, and even in-car movies will help occupy the passengers and allow drivers to focus on the road ahead.

2. Visual Distractions:

  • PROBLEM:  As fun as a game of "I spy" is to keep kids busy and entertained, taking your eye off traffic and focusing on billboards, licence plates and the scenery around you means that you are taking your eye of the road.
  • SOLUTION:  Keep visual distractions to a minimum by having the kids play by themselves or with the passenger in the car. Leave the driver to drive.

3. Cognitive Distractions:

  • PROBLEM:  The car may seem like a great place to think about everything you have to do when you get to the office or get home but in reality, these act as cognitive distractions which in turn can take your mind off the task at hand, safely getting to your destination.
  • SOLUTION:  Instead, use the car as your place of meditation. Turn off all incoming devices and use this time to re-charge and re-energize so that when you arrive your mind is clear. What other place do you have that no one else can bother you? Take advantage of this 'me' time and allow yourself to focus on the drive and take a time-out from your otherwise hectic life.

4. Manual Distractions:

  • PROBLEM:  Yes, cell phones are a distraction but so are eating and drinking in the car. 
  • SOLUTION:  Try and keep your manual distractions to a minimum.  Take breaks for food and drink rather than consuming them in the car.  Not only will this allow you to focus on your driving when in the car, it allows a mental break from driving too.  Getting out and stretching your legs while you have a snack is good for both the mind and body.
Sometimes we are the cause of distraction and don't even know it.  I realised the other day that I was sending texts to a friend about a coffee order while waiting for her in a coffee shop.  At the time I didn't think anything of it because I was nowhere near my car.  But afterwards I realised that she was driving to meet me so in fact my actions were putting not only her in danger but those in cars around her.  I will never do that again! 
I work in a physiotherapy office and witness on a daily basis the impact that distracted driving has on those involved in accidents and the families that support them.  It isn't rocket science.  We can make small changes to our routines that can reduce the number of distracted driving related incidents.  I encourage you to visit the Insurance Hunter website, read their blog on Stop Distracted Drivers and learn more about how you can stop distracted driving.   I am pledging to do my part to stop distracted drivers.  I hope you'll join me!

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