Minimise distractions at the wheel

Posted on January 16th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

DIstractionsAs children, we kept hearing the same things from our parents over and over again? The truth is that after some time, we tended to ignore what our parents said until what they were warning us about was actually happening.

This also seems to be the trend when it comes to distracted driving. We know that talking and texting is dangerous while driving. Just about every country has some form of ban for using hand-held electronic devices while driving. Although these laws are common knowledge, most people don’t take them seriously. Perhaps they feel they won’t get caught or it isn’t really that serious a law.

Whatever their reasoning, education is required. Having two hands on the wheel will help a driver steer more effectively, but it’s more than that. In order to drive safely you need to think about the driving task. If your mind is elsewhere, you’re not concentrating enough.

Remember when someone was speaking to you and you began daydreaming for a few seconds? You actually stopped paying attention to the conversation. Being mentally distracted is often ignored but that needs to change if you want to drive safely.

There are many things that can take your thoughts away from driving. Drinking coffee or water or eating takes very little thought. You rarely have to look away from the driving scene. However, if you spill on yourself, that’s another story. You’ll look down and think about what to do next. Now your thoughts have changed.

Safety tip: Wait until you have stopped before you drink or eat. It can wait.

New vehicle technologies are also distracting drivers. The touch screens in most new vehicles take the driver’s attention away from driving while the vehicle is in motion. As a suggestion, pre-set your music so you know you won’t have to do anything while driving, or if you’re accompanied on a journey, let your passenger work those controls.

Passengers can of course be a huge distraction for the driver, so set up rules with your passengers to keep them from distracting you. Give children things to do, such as books and games. Audio books are also great, but provide earphones so the noise won’t distract you.

For longer trips, plan where to stop for breaks. This helps everyone re-focus before getting back in the vehicle.

As you can see, distracted driving is more than just electronic devices. It’s about keeping your thoughts on driving and nothing else. Decide what distracts you from focusing on driving and make the necessary changes. You’ll appreciate it and so will your passengers.