In 2015, 3,477 people were killed as a result of crashes caused by distracted drivers. Another approximately 391,000 people were injured.
Distracted driving is a serious problem throughout the United States, and far too many people are traveling on the roads every day without giving them their full attention.
Read on for ten road safety tips that will help you avoid distracted driving and get to your destination safely!
What is Distracted Driving?
Before we get into specific road safety tips, let’s first briefly discuss what it means to drive while distracted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define distracted driving as doing any other activity that takes your attention away from the road. The CDC also groups distractions into the following three categories:
- Visual: activities that take your eyes away from the road
- Manual: activities that take your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: activities that take your mind away from driving
Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions because it combines all three types.
When you’re typing a message, your eyes are off the road and your hands are off the wheel. Your mind is also off of driving since you’re thinking about what you’re going to say.
Who is Most Likely to Drive While Distracted?
The CDC has found that drivers ages 15-19 are more likely than others to be involved in distraction-related crashes.
The CDC’s 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System also found some disturbing information about teens’ driving habits. For example, 42 percent of high school students said they had sent a text or email while driving in the 30 days leading up to the survey.
The survey also showed that students who regularly text while driving are also more likely to engage in other unsafe driving practices, such as:
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Riding with someone who had been drinking
- Drinking and driving themselves
Of course, teens are not the only ones who should keep these road safety tips in mind.
Everyone can benefit from a reminder about the dangers of distracted driving.
Road Safety Tips Every Driver Should Follow
These ten road safety tips can help drivers of all ages stay safe during their travels.
1. Plan Ahead
One of the best things you can do to avoid distracted driving is set yourself up for success right from the beginning.
Figure out the route you’re going to take before you start driving. That way, you can just listen to the cues from your GPS and won’t be looking down at the map trying to figure out where to turn next.
Make sure you have your toll money or pre-paid pass ready to go as well so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to rummage through cupholders or the glove compartment.
It ought to go without saying, but make sure you’re taking care of your grooming and clothing changes before you start driving, too.
You should never be putting on makeup or fixing your hair while you’re on the road.
2. Get Help from Your Passengers
If you do forget to do something or need help with your GPS, delegate those tasks to your passengers.
When you’re driving, especially with other people in the car, your only priority is to get to your destination safely.
Let your passengers change the radio, send texts, or make phone calls for you.
3. Avoid Temptation
It’s hard to ignore your phone when you have text messages and phone calls coming in.
Today’s digital age makes us feel like we need to be totally available 24/7, even if that means putting our safety at risk.
To avoid the temptation of looking down at your phone, turn on airplane mode or turn it off altogether as soon as you get in the car. Place it out of reach as well, to make it even easier to ignore.
4. Keep Conversations Simple
There are lots of options available that allow you to talk on the phone hands-free.
However, if you’re talking on the phone while driving, you’re still technically distracted since your mind is on something other than the road.
If you absolutely must talk while driving, using a hands-free device is essential. You should also do your best to avoid having intense or difficult conversations while driving.
Keep them as simple as possible, even if that means telling the person on the other line that you’re going to have to call them back once you get to your destination.
5. Properly Secure Pets
Pets often like to jump back and forth between seats or sit on your lap while driving. For your safety and your pet’s, you should avoid letting them do this.
Make sure your pet is properly secured in a crate or carrier before you get in the car.
6. Be Comfortable
Don’t adjust your seat, mirrors, or climate control settings while you’re driving. The same goes for taking off jackets or sweaters. Do these things before you hit the road, or at least wait until you’re at a stoplight.
7. Ditch the Drive-through
Eating while driving is very distracting.
Not only are you taking at least one hand off the wheel, but you’re also taking your eyes off the road while picking up your next bite of food.
Drive-through’s and pre-packaged foods are convenient, of course, and you can definitely take advantage of them when necessary. But, you should still avoid eating while traveling.
Pull over or eat in the parking lot if you must eat while in the car.
8. Keep Your Eyes Forward
When you see an accident or incident, it’s tempting to turn and look to see what’s happening. Do your best to resist, though.
This slows down traffic, and it also puts you at risk of causing another collision since your eyes aren’t where they should be.
9. Limit the Number of Passengers in the Car
When you have a bunch of people in the car, it’s hard to focus solely on the road.
Do your best to limit the number of passengers you have in your car, as well as the amount of activity going on inside.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever drive people places, of course. But, you should try to avoid overloading the car. This is especially true for new drivers.
There’s a reason many states have laws that prohibit teens from having teenage passengers with them in the car.
10. Keep Calm
In addition to avoiding emotional phone calls while driving, you should also avoid getting behind the wheel when you’re in any kind of emotional state.
If you’re feeling angry or upset, you probably won’t be focusing on the road and will be more likely to let your mind wander. You might also be more susceptible to making rash decisions that could negatively affect you or another driver.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?
Have you been injured in a distracted driving accident? Are you unsure of how to proceed?
The attorneys at Trapp & Gellar have been serving the Chicago area for more than 35 years and have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients.
We know what it takes to help you get the compensation you deserve.
If you’re in need of a personal injury attorney and want to work with the best, contact us today.