Distractions have always been a risk for drivers, but today’s distractions are more frequent and more complicated than ever. We have a population that often has too much to do and too little time. Many people use their driving time to multi-task behind the wheel.

Recognizing Distractions.

Personal devices like cellphones are some of the most common and most dangerous types of distractions. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it takes away everything you need to be safe: your eyes, hands, and mind.

Vehicle Technologies like GPS systems and touchscreens for entertainment can be a distraction. There are some required technologies for professional drivers like electronic logging devices and dash cameras. These gadgets might increase safety and convenience in many ways, but they can also increase driver risk and distraction if not used properly.

Anything you touch, besides your driving controls, are physical distractions. They take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road.

Other types of distractions fall into two categories: Visual and Mental.

Visual distractions lure your eyes off the road, such as a fancy car, a herd of deer, beautiful scenery, or a crash scene. If you need to check something out, find a place to park your vehicle and then look. Mental distractions draw your mind away from driving. Some examples are planning your schedule, worrying about where you need to be, or daydreaming about your next vacation. Be careful! Mental distractions can make you completely blind to hazards, earning them names like inattention blindness and highway hypnosis.

Avoid Distractions.

Avoid being distracted while on the road by preparing for distractions before you start your trip:

  • Program your GPS,
  • Set your radio or entertainment player,
  • Make any necessary calls, and
  • Check your directions and/or instructions.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. Be prepared before you start your trip. Think about your trip before it begins. You should focus on four activities for safe driving:
  • Scan the road;
  • Check mirrors;
  • Read instruments, gauges, and other essential controls; and
  • Operate the vehicle safely.

Header Photo by Alexandre Boucher on Unsplash

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