News reports come every year, with updates on statistics and risks of texting and driving. As technology continues to grow, though, texting is not the only risk. Smartphones and hands-free “infotainment” systems in cars offer the height of convenience but can still post a hazard to distracted driving.
In honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month and in an effort to keep our community safer, New Braunfels ER wants to talk about the dangers of distracted driving in the ever-evolving 21st century.
Distracting the Driver
Everyone knows that distracting a driver can be very dangerous. Yelling children, animals in a car, and any other number of factors can become hazardous distractions behind the wheel.
Texting and taking phone calls are examples of distraction that can happen in an otherwise peaceful car. When a driver is trying to multitask and use their hands to hold a cell phone or send a message, they can be looking away from the road for five seconds or more. Five seconds might not sound like a huge risk, but when a car is traveling over 50 miles per hour, they can drive across an entire football field in 5 seconds. That is a lot of ground to cover, and when you aren’t looking at the road, the risks of collision are huge.
Many people, in an effort to avoid distracted driving, have taken to hands-free phone calls or speak-and-type messaging. While this might seem like a solution, since it keeps both hands on the steering wheel, recent studies show that even hands-free communication can still be distracting for drivers. This is because holding a conversation, whether someone is in the car with you, on the phone, or sending messages, distracts not only your hands but your mind. Distracted drivers, even those using hands-free communication, can miss up to 50% of the things happening around them on the roads. This makes it important for all drivers to adapt to new ways of driving that lower their risks of a collision.
Safe Driving Tips
Sometimes, staying focused behind the wheel is easier said than done. For many people, the idea of driving everywhere in complete silence is not only boring, but sleep-inducing, and that is just as dangerous as distracted driving. So how can you stay engaged with the road?
Here are some of the best ways to keep your driving clear and focused:
- Get all of your mirrors, climate control, sound system and GPS set up and ready to go before you start driving.
- Talk to young children about the importance of being calm in the car so that they understand not to yell or throw things or kick against the back of seats.
- Keep any pets you might be transporting adequately secured in appropriate carrying crates and buckled in the back seat.
- Don’t try to engage in any personal grooming or dressing in the car; only start your drive when you’re dressed and ready.
- Avoid trying to snack or eat while driving.
- To keep your mind occupied, but not distracted, try listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. These can keep you from getting bored while driving but are not mentally distracting like phone calls and messaging is.
Finding your perfect driving environment might take some time. If you try listening to audiobooks but find yourself feeling distracted by them while driving, then you should try something else. Doing things like get a vent or dashboard mounts for your GPS systems is also a good step to take to keep you engaged with the road while you go somewhere new. But finding the right factors for you is important to maintain safe driving.
New Braunfels ER knows that no driver wants to be distracted. Sometimes, the temptation to check a message or the pressure to always be accessible for work calls can get in the way of otherwise better judgment. But this month, think about your driving habits and see what you can do to improve them. With everyone in our community making an effort, together, we can make a safer New Braunfels.
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