The scope of available technology in our cars today is immense. We can surf the web, check our email, make dinner reservations, and even check live traffic reports, all through the convenience of an in-car entertainment system or cell phone integration system. Our productivity has never been higher while driving. Unfortunately, all these new abilities have come at the expense of focusing on the road ahead. As a result, distracted driving has become of the one of the most common causes of serious car accidents.
Despite law makers’ efforts to curb our usage of these distracting devices, our habits have continued. Cell phone usage has been outlawed entirely in many states, and design regulations are being developed to limit the available options for future entertainment systems. And yet, we continue to bury our faces in our phones and take our attention off the task of driving. To maintain the safety of our roads, laws and regulations will be entirely ineffective if we do not also change our behavior.
If you are behind the wheel of an automobile, your primary task is always piloting it safely. No interference from your smart phone should ever take precedent over keeping your eyes forward and obeying the rules of the road. To help you keep this principle in mind, here are a few techniques to keep in mind to help you maintain your focus and not allow any unwelcome distractions from drawing your attention away from the road and introducing danger to yourself and everyone around you.
Map out your route before you leave. One of the most distracting things you can do while driving is consulting your phone or GPS to learn where you are going. Deciphering a map requires your full attention, something you cannot dedicate in your car. If you are traveling to a new location for the first time, understand the route before you set off. Driving without a clear understanding of the roads you will need to take can dramatically increase stress and panic levels, leaving you more susceptible to making a wrong turn, or ill-fated maneuver that puts you on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.
Turn your phone off or put it on silent mode. For many, our smart phones are too tempting a distraction to have access too. You can avoid this by shutting down your phone completely, storing it out of sight, and eliminating the possibility of receiving any unwelcome messages. If turning off your phone is not an option because of emergency purposes, always be sure to pull over to the side of the road and come to a full and complete stop before using it. Pull into a parking lot if possible; get out of the way of any active traffic.
If you have passengers on board, let them operate any in-car entertainment systems or make phone calls for you. If you need to send an important message, or quickly change your radio station, let those who have no driving responsibility take care of the task for you. Not only does this allow you to more completely focus on the road, but allows passengers to carefully and clearly send your message, or find a more appropriate radio station.
If possible, let coworkers or family know that you are driving. If you know that you are going to be on the road for a set period of time, let people know so they can avoid contacting you while you are driving. This can also help preventing any misunderstandings or confusion when you fail to respond, as they will know that you are busy. The urgent need to respond to an important message can be subdued if both parties know that you are in the car.
By eliminating the temptation for distraction and keeping your focus on the road ahead, you can avoid the kinds of dangerous accidents that plague roads our today. Operating your smart phone or navigating through your car’s complicated entertainment system is not worth the risk. Keep your hands off these distracting devices and on the wheel, and get to where you are going in one piece.