What is Distracted Driving?
Most of us drive on a regular basis. As we become comfortable with the act of driving, the actions and motions begin to take on a sort of cruise control. It is easy to let the mind wander and start driving distracted.
Distracted driving is quite serious. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2008 more than a half million people were injured in car accidents caused by distracted driving.
So what can you do to avoid being a distracted driver? Here are a few common distractions and some simple steps on how to avoid them.
Recognize that many activities, such as texting, fiddling with a navigation system, and flipping through music on the radio or an MP3 player, are all very distracting while driving a vehicle. These may seem like simple tasks you could perform without issue any other time - but while driving they can be extremely dangerous. Every second you spend focused on something other than driving is time when a vehicle could come to a sudden halt or pull out in front of you. So wait until later to make that phone call, text or change the radio station. Without your full attention, these fleeting moments are the difference between a safe commute and an accident due to distracted driving.
The Driver’s State of Mind
Inattention to the road is not merely taking your hands off the wheel or fiddling with a device, but also not being fully aware of your actions while driving. This can be the result from having intense conversations, driving while upset, or just being overly tired.
Here are a few simple tips to follow if you are preoccupied while driving:
If you are driving with passengers, let them know that conversation should be kept to a minimum. Also, phone conversations should be avoided completely, even if you have a hands-free device. If you must make a phone call, then pull over and complete it at a safe location.
If you are feeling angry or upset, then try to avoid driving distracted. The mind wanders far and wide when we are in these moods and it is hard to focus your attention on the road.
Remember - a tired driver is a distracted driver. If you are having trouble keeping your eyes open or focusing your attention, find a safe place to stop your car and rest, or call a friend or family member to pick you up. It's not worth trying to drive while exhausted.
Distracted driving not only endangers you, but your passengers, other drivers and pedestrians. Keeping your mind focused will help protect your safety and the safety of others.
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