Nobody ever plans to get into a car accident — they always happen unexpectedly.
That’s why it is of utmost importance to keep your eyes on the road at all times, as things could change at a moment’s notice. “But, it won’t happen to me. Not today!” says most of us, as we engage in the bad habit of distracted driving.
In a connected world that constantly demands so much of our attention, it can be hard to stay focused. But when you’re on the road, you can’t spare a moment without focus. So in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, here are some tips that you can use to eliminate distracted driving.
- Eat before you go
Eating while driving can be incredibly distracting. And although it might seem like it will save you time to grab a snack to go, it can decrease your attentiveness to the cars around you.
Plus, don’t underestimate how disturbing food spills can be. If you do have to eat, make sure to pack something small — like a banana or a granola bar —and have it all ready to go. Messy foods, food that require utensils or foods that need to be grabbed out of a bag or container, should not be consumed while driving.
- Send texts now — not later
In the age of text messaging and social media, it can be hard to part with your smartphone —even if it is just for a few minutes. And every year, about 421,000 people are injured in crashes that have involved a driver who was distracted in some way.
If you are in the middle of texting someone before you hit the road, let them know. Send a quick text that says “Hey, I’m about to drive. I will respond in a bit.” Depending on how long you are driving, you might want to also send a quick text to your significant other or a family member who might be wondering about you. Plus there are more and more “app” options to help.
That is if you’re the kind of person who gets anxious about not responding to a text message right away.
As cheesy as it sounds, no text message is worth risking a life. We promise it can wait.
- Prepare your entertainment ahead of time
Switching between various music tracks and playing “DJ” can be very distracting while driving.
To prevent this, prepare curated playlists that can be played from your smartphone via an auxiliary cord, create a mix CD, use audio commands or, if you are a fan of a local radio station, specific CDs or have an audiobook you’d like to read, play that during your drive. The key is to eliminate the desire to switch.
- Tired or emotional? Pullover
Rough day? We’ve all been there. If you feel that you are not in the right mindset to focus on the road 100 percent, don’t hesitate to pull over, until you feel calm. It can be very dangerous to be driving while in an amplified emotional state.
You can try meditation, breathing exercises or — you can let it all out. Scream or cry, whatever you need. Let it out now, not while behind the wheel.
And if you are too tired, just get off the road. A government study revealed that about 37 percent of U.S. drivers have nodded off or actually fallen asleep at least once in their lifetime of driving.
- Make all necessary adjustments
Driving with a water bottle? Make sure the cap is on. Driving with delicate or fragile items? Make sure they are in a safe place. Did someone else drive in the vehicle prior to you? Make sure all the mirrors are adjusted to your proportions.
In general, make it a practice to give a good look at your vehicle to make sure everything is situated in the way you’d like it before you put your foot on the gas.
Distracted driving is no joke. In the connected age, drivers must be extra conscious of the dangers of distracted driving. Are you taking the necessary precautions?
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