It’s no secret that distracted driving can have a devastating impact — and that it’s responsible for thousands of deaths every year. It’s time to dig deeper into your behaviors behind the wheel. Read on to see our tips to prevent distracted driving.
1. Hit the App Store
You know you should stash your phone while you drive, but tossing it in the back seat doesn’t seem especially practical. Take advantage of special apps designed to prevent distracted driving — just be sure to download them before you hit the road.
LifeSaver and OnMyWay detect when the car starts moving, then silences alerts and auto-replies to new messages. Drivemode Dash will read texts aloud and uses voice controls to play songs, make calls and send messages. No need to type a “Be there soon!” text from a few blocks away. Yes, that’s dangerous, even on a quiet neighborhood street. Some apps, like Safe 2 Save, reward safe drivers with incentives at local businesses and let you compete with friends and family.
2. Prep for Your Trip
Don’t wait until you’re on the road to prepare for your drive. Whether you’re heading to work or on a road trip, take a minute to set up everything you might need. Adjust your mirrors, plug your destination into your GPS app (turn up the sound to ensure you won’t need to see your phone screen) and turn on a podcast or a playlist you won’t want to skip through. Don’t forget to stash a water bottle — preferably one with a straw, not a cap — in an easy-to-access cup holder.
3. Manage Your Passengers
Eliminating distractions isn’t just about seeing to your own needs. Adult passengers can help you navigate, switch the tunes and answers calls or texts. Kids and pets, on the other hand, aren’t especially helpful passengers. We’ve all reached back to find the baby’s toy or stop the dog from climbing onto you. That quick second with your eyes off the road can be catastrophic. Preparation, again, is a key way to prevent distracted driving. If you have an animal that needs attention in the car, use a crate to make a safer ride for both of you. Arm the kids with snacks and toys before you start the car, and if a little one needs help, take the time to pull over.
4. Eat Before You Drive
A greasy burger or piping-hot coffee could spell trouble if you hit a bump. If you can, avoid chowing down on the road all together. Eating before or after your trip is a great distracted driving solution for you— and those around you. In fact, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates eating or drinking from an open container increases the likelihood of a crash or near-miss crash by 39%.
5. Get Ready at Home
It’s tempting to use all those minutes stuck in traffic to apply make-up or get a head start on the day’s email, but the risk isn’t worth it. Fixing your hair is a visual, manual and cognitive distraction — impairing your ability to drive safely. Stay engaged with your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier and take care of your pre-work routine at home.
6. Drive Alert
We know we’re not at our best after a bad night’s sleep. If we struggle in a meeting or on a test, what about when behind the wheel? Drowsiness makes drivers less attentive and slows reaction and decision times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you notice any signs of drowsy driving — like drifting, yawning or missing a turn — pull over and call someone.
Professional Resources That Help
Avoiding distractions behind the wheel is everyone’s business. Our Young Driver Safety Program is designed to help the newest drivers develop safe driving habits. Our Driveology program rewards safe drivers, too. Contact your Farm Bureau agent to learn more.