It’s so easy to do: You’re driving a route you drive every day and your phone buzzes. You only need to glance at it for a second to check who it is. But in that second, you can instantly become one of the thousands of people who are injured and killed in car accidents every year.
Even worse, you could harm someone who was driving responsibly.
No matter how confident you feel driving, even the most innocent of distractions can end or change the life of yourself or others. That’s why eliminating distracted driving is one of the most important things you can do to stay safe on the road.
But what counts as a distraction, and how do you avoid it? Keep reading to learn more about what you should avoid doing while driving and some tips to maintain a safe standard when behind the wheel.
The Cost of Distracted Driving
It’s important to remember that when driving, you take not only the safety of yourself but that of your passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers into your hands. In 2019 alone, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 people.
Every time you take your attention away from driving, even for a few seconds, you increase the likelihood of accidents and crashes. Just imagine how far your car moves in a moment when you’re going just 30 miles per hour.
Each year around 3,000 people, including pedestrians, are killed by distracted drivers. On top of that, a further 400,000 are injured.
Besides just the safety of others, distracted driving can put your finances at risk by causing dramatic auto or hospital bills. Even taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds can lead to an accident that will cost you thousands of dollars.
The costs of distracted driving are broad, impacting not only those killed or injured but their families and friends as well. However, saving lives is as easy as driving responsibly, and that means being aware of the ways that your attention is taken off the task of driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
You can think of distracted driving as anything that takes your attention away from your vehicle and the environment around you. While some distractions like texting or drinking are obviously dangerous, others are more innocent.
Here are 6 of the most commons types of distracted driving to stay alert for:
- Eating or drinking
- Texting, calling, or otherwise using the phone
- Using the GPS while driving
- Reaching for items on the floor in seats behind you
- Driving while tired, high, or intoxicated
- Multi-tasking of most sorts
When you’re driving, your eyes, ears, and brain should all be tuned in to your vehicle and the road around you. Any action that takes away from this attention is a potential distraction. But how can you avoid them?
7 Tips: How to Stay Safe on the Road
You can do plenty of things to make sure that you aren’t distracted when behind the wheel. Below are some tips that could very well save your life or those of others, so keep reading for some important ideas!
1. Prepare Before You Start Driving
Before you shift into drive, check that you have everything you need. If you want to use a navigation system, make sure to enter your destination and set up the guidance before you start driving.
2. Stow Potential Distractions
If you want to avoid driving distracted but have a hard time avoiding the temptation, try keeping potential distractions out of arm’s reach.
By putting items like food and your phone in a place where you can’t reach them, you can prevent yourself from using them even if you really want to.
3. Let Others Know You’re Unavailable When Driving
Today’s world is one of constant connection, and that can lead to the pressure to be available at all times. To avoid this, let family, friends, and your employer know that you won’t be able to text or chat while you’re in the car.
If you absolutely need to be available while driving, set up your car’s Bluetooth system to ensure that you can stay safe while keeping in contact. Otherwise, pull over to use your phone if you’re expecting an important call or text.
4. Pull Over When You Need To
When you need to check your phone, grab a drink, use the GPS, or do anything else that will take your eyes of the road, pull over. While it may seem like an annoyance, it takes just a few moments can protect your life and prevent accidents.
If you’re on a road with no shoulder or can’t find a place to safely stop, keep driving until you can or take the nearest exit.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
An important part of protecting against distracted driving is being a responsible passenger. For example, if your driver is texting while driving, ask them to wait or offer to type and send their message for them.
While it may be awkward to ask someone to stop a behavior, remember that your life and the lives of others are well worth it.
6. Teach Your Kids Good Habits
Keeping your family safe starts with demonstrating good habits.
Make sure to set a good example for your kids by avoiding distractions and teaching them to do the same, especially when they approach the legal driving age.
7. Set Rules for Yourself
Before you get in the car again, set standards and promise yourself you’ll stick to them.
While it may take some effort and self-control to stick to your vow at first, before you know it you’ll have developed safe habits that you can easily stick with for the rest of your life.
Driving Responsibly Could Save A Life
Driving keeps us connected and opens the world up to us, but it comes with risks. While you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you can control your own.
By eliminating distracted driving from your life, you dramatically lower the chance that you’ll find yourself in an accident or responsible for someone’s death or injury.
Driving responsibly can save your life, your finances, and your future. Help keep South Carolina roads safe by staying alert and practicing good driving habits.
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