Life is filled with distractions. Especially today when we find life changing rapidly. You have more demands on your time. It’s tempting to eat on the run. And then there is the constant bombardment by technology. Phone calls. Text messages. Traffic updates. Breaking news. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, nearly 20% of all motor vehicle crashes in the state resulted from distracted driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2018 alone, distracted driving killed 2,841 people — including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Here are seven tips you can use to help you and your drivers avoid distracted driving.
Prepare to Depart. When you first enter your vehicle, ensure that your seat is in the right position, that all mirrors are set so you can see, that your climate control is set to your liking, and that you have your entertainment system adjusted. Don’t change music channels or attempt to adjust settings while driving. If you do find that you need to adjust something, take the extra minute to pull out of traffic. It could save your life and the life of someone around you. Multitasking is difficult in the best of circumstances. It is never an option while you operate a vehicle.
Know Before You Go. Look up the address of your next stop before you leave a parked position. Program in the complete address to your GPS system and observe the overall route so you have an idea of your driving plan. Ensure that the volume is turned up so you can listen to directions. If you find yourself confused, pull to the side and stop before adjusting your GPS.
Use the “Do Not Disturb” Mode. Never answer a phone call while you’re driving. Even a hands-free mode can be distracting. If you have a separate GPS system in your vehicle, use that instead of your phone and put your phone out of reach. Don’t be tempted to browse messages at red lights or answer even short texts as you drive. While cell phone use does appear to be greatly reduced thanks to new laws prohibiting drivers from texting and driving, it is still a significant factor in crashes. According to the NHTSA, there were 401 fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2017 involving cell phone distractions.
Don’t Dine in the Car. Your vehicle is not a dining room. If possible, pull over to eat. If you do have a long drive and want a snack, ensure that it is handy, isn’t messy, and that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to find it. The best idea, however, is to pull over in a nice out-of-the-way spot to enjoy that meal-on-the-go.
Groom Before You Go. Your vehicle is not the place for personal grooming. Don’t comb your hair, put on lipstick, or check your teeth while driving. If you find yourself going from job-to-job during the day, take a few moments before you leave one job to collect yourself. Once you pull out into traffic, you should never glance at yourself in the mirror.
Don’t Doze Off. Getting sleepy behind the wheel is deadly. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08,” which is considered legally drunk. According to the NHTSA, more than 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are the result of driver fatigue. Don’t get behind the wheel if you have not had enough sleep. If you feel drowsy, pull over, get out of the car and walk, and call for assistance if you cannot safely continue.
Don’t Let Passengers Distract You. You may often have at least one other passenger with you as you go from various jobsites during the day. Don’t let the other person distract you from the road. While conversations are great, avoid the urge to look at the person speaking. Ensure that passengers don’t attempt to distract you with something they want you to see on a phone, or by reaching into your space. Remind passengers to keep your rearview and side mirrors clear. If you ever have children or pets in the vehicle, ensure they are secure before pulling out into traffic.
These seven tips for avoiding distracted driving can help your workers as they spend time behind the wheel each day. Download the infographic to share!