Have you ever been so comfortable behind the wheel that you find yourself texting, eating or applying lip gloss while you’re driving without even giving it a second thought? We’ve all been there. Usually nothing bad happens when we behave this way but one day it could. Distracted driving is a big deal and we should all take it seriously. Did you know that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes? Those are chilling numbers and something has to be done.
Two organizations, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance are, in fact, working towards increasing awareness about the risks of distracted driving through their Decide to Drive program. The program aims to empower drivers and passengers to speak up about distracted driving, continue the conversation at home, work and play, and reduce distracted behaviors behind the wheel. This cause couldn’t be more important!
Below are 10 Tips for Avoiding Distractions While Driving and information about how you can participate in the Decide to Drive campaign.
1. Hands on the wheel.
The AAOS and the Auto Alliance urges all drivers to keep their most sophisticated safety features engaged at all times: eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. If you can adhere to this rule, avoiding distractions while driving will be much easier.
2. Hands-Free devices are not the answer.
Turn your cell phone off or put it on silent while driving. If there’s an emergency, pull over and use your phone. Hands-free devices can still cause you to be distracted so it’s better to be safe than sorry. That phone call can wait!
3. Pull over if you feel sleepy or disoriented.
It’s simply not worth the risk to drive if you are not feeling alert. Pay attention to your body and stop driving if you are not awake enough or healthy enough to do so.
4. Limit your passengers and the activity inside your vehicle.
You should be focused on the road, not your passengers. Try to keep your passengers at a minimum and require that they aid in your driving efforts by alerting you to possible driving threats that you may not be aware of and by keeping their noise level down. It’s also important to secure any pets or children that are traveling with you. If they need your attention, please pull over before giving it.
5. Do not eat from behind the wheel.
Eat before you leave and try not to drive while you’re hungry. Even sipping on coffee takes one hand off of the wheel and can create a dangerous situation. If you must eat during your trip, pull over and do so. Shaving five to ten minutes off of your car ride does not justify the dangers of eating while driving.
6. Do not multi-task.
Changing the radio station, fumbling for your sunglasses, and checking your teeth for leftovers may seem innocent but these are still distractions. Don’t do it. Focus on the road and multi-task while your vehicle is not moving.
7. Store your gear.
Loose gear, toys and other possessions that aren’t secure can roll around in your vehicle and entice you to grab them while you are driving. Take care of it and store these items before you start your car.
8. Make adjustments first.
Adjust your mirrors, seats, radio, air conditioning and heating controls, GPS, and the like beforehand. Again, these are also distractions.
9. Finish dressing and personal grooming at home.
Leave the house with your make-up on, your hair done, and your clothes buttoned or simply don’t leave.
10. As a general rule, if you can’t devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Don’t do it!
The “Decide To Drive” Catchphrase Contest
Are you passionate about ending distracted driving? Do you have the best slogan or catch phrase to make the Decide to Drive campaign pop? Enter the Decide to Drive Catch Phrase Contest now through June 13. Your words could be chosen as the official Decide to Drive national campaign catchphrase, and you could win one of two $500 Visa Gift Cards or the grand prize which is a $1,000 Visa Gift Card! The contest is open to all adults (18 and over) in the US. What will you come up with?
Let’s all participate and put a stop to unnecessary injuries and deaths on the open road!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.