Distracted driving is not so different from drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than nine people are killed daily, and over 1,000 sustain injuries in crashes involving distracted drivers.
The most common distraction is cell phone use, but other activities can divide attention while driving.
So, what are the different categories of distractions?
How to minimize distracted driving?
How can you handle distracted drivers on the road?
What to do if you are a victim of distracted driving? We discuss everything below.
Table of Contents
Types of Distracted Driving
There are three main types of distracted driving: manual, visual, and cognitive.
It occurs when a driver takes their hands off the wheel to do something else, like fidgeting with the radio or reaching for a dropped phone.
It happens when a driver takes their eyes off the road to look at something else, like an object on the side of the road.
Cognitive distraction occurs when a driver’s attention is elsewhere, and they’re not focused on driving, like daydreaming or thinking about something that happened earlier in the day.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
1. Pull Over to Use Your Phone
You’re driving along and suddenly realize you need to make a phone call.
So, you furtively glance at your phone and see that you have a few missed calls. You debate whether or not to answer but eventually decide that you’ll just quickly call the person back. After all, how much harm can a little distracted driving really do?
Well, such driving distractions can be hazardous. Even a brief lapse in attention can lead to accidents. And when you’re dealing with something as large and heavy as a truck, those accidents can be severe – even fatal.
That’s why pulling over if you need to use your phone while driving is essential. By pulling over, you’ll be able to give your full attention to your phone call or text message, and you won’t be putting yourself or other drivers at risk.
2. Use a Route Planner App
It’s not just multitasking or cell phone that causes distractions. Long road trips can make you fatigued, which can also be distracting.
If you drive down the highway for over eight hours, you’ll find it difficult to concentrate and focus- which means risky situations might just be waiting around every turn!
According to a Transport Accident Commission (TAC) report, around 20% of fatal crashes involve driver fatigue. The risks of motor vehicle crashes are even higher when you drive after dark or in low light conditions.
A route planner like Route4Me is one of the best solutions to distracted driving. A delivery route planner app can help you find the best routes to ensure you can cover many stops without getting fatigued and reach destinations on time. The software considers weather, traffic, roadblocks, sunrise and sunset times, one-way, avoidance zones, and more constraints that could lead to distracted driving.
Planning your route before you start driving can minimize the chances of being distracted by your GPS or phone. And there will be no instances of getting lost and texting or calling your dispatcher for directions.
In addition, the best route planners like RouteMe’s trucking GPS app come with an in-app voice-guided navigation system that helps you follow directions without looking at your smartphone’s screen.
3. Do Not Eat and Drink While Driving
It might not seem like a big deal to grab a quick bite or sip while driving. But the reality is that even taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds can have disastrous consequences.
Many things can go wrong when you eat and drive. Your ability to keep your hands on the wheel is greatly hindered, and you may cause an accident.
You could also spill food on yourself, and you may immediately veer out of the lane or even off the road. You should consume the food before or after a trip, never during it.
4. Keep Your Delivery Vehicle Clean and Organized
We’ve all been there-we’re driving along, and we reach for something, only to find it buried under a pile of clothes or tools. Suddenly, we’re distracted, and our mind is no longer on the road.
That’s why keeping your delivery vehicle clean and organized is so important. Not only will it help you stay focused while you’re driving, but it will also make your life a lot easier. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Create a system for organizing your items. You could purchase some storage containers or bins or use plastic bags to keep things sorted. They will help keep loose items from rolling around in the back of your car.
- Do a little bit of cleaning each day. This will prevent dirt and grime from building up over time. Don’t try to do everything at once-just. Take a few minutes to tidy up before you start your day.
- Keep a trash bag in your vehicle to quickly and easily dispose of garbage.
5. Avoid Using Hands-free Device
When you’re on your phone while driving, it’s hard to pay attention and watch what’s happening around you. That is why you may think using a hands-free device like an earpiece or dashboard system installed in the vehicle will make you safer than holding onto your own set of controls with one hand. However, that’s simply not true.
According to a report by The National Safety Council, 24% of all distracted driving crashes involve cell phone conversations, hand-held and otherwise. And as per their research, hands-free devices are dangerous because they distracting – especially when you’re driving!
While driving, the brain’s ability to process moving images decreases by 33%, and even when you’re looking straight ahead on the road, there might be 50% more things that escape your notice because they aren’t in front of you.
So, think twice the next time you’re tempted to use your hands-free device.
6. STOP Multitasking
You might think juggling multiple tasks behind the wheel would make you a more efficient driver, but the truth is the opposite.
Multitasking can actually decrease your productivity and lead to errors. According to a study, only 2.5% of the 200 participants could multitask effectively.
When driving, you need to focus on the task at hand: operating your vehicle safely. That means no fiddling with the radio, no checking your email, and definitely no grooming.
7. Do Not Listen to Radio and Music While Driving
The open road can be a lonely place. So, the temptation to turn on the radio or pop in a CD is strong. However, you should resist the urge to listen to music while behind the wheel.
Listening to music or radio can take your attention away from the road, making it more likely that you’ll miss something important. Plus, hearing other vehicles or horns can be difficult if the radio is too loud.
How to Handle Distracted Drivers on the Road
There could be times when you are not distracted but facing a distracted driver who could compromise your safety.
So what can you do about it?
First, being aware of the signs of distracted driving is essential. If you see somebody swerving or weaving in and out of their lane, it’s a good bet that they’re not paying attention to the road. And if they’re suddenly braking or accelerating erratically, that’s another red flag.
If you find yourself in a situation with a distracted driver, the best thing to do is to give them a wide berth. Don’t try to pass them, tailgate, or cut them off; just let them go on their way and hope that they snap out of it before they cause an accident.
Second, be patient and don’t honk or make other aggressive gestures. And finally, if you can safely do so, try to get the distracted driver’s attention by waving or making eye contact.
What to do If You Become a Victim of Distracted Driving?
If you find yourself the victim of a distracted driver, here are a few things you can do to ease the pain.
- Take a deep breath and relax. It’s not your fault the other driver wasn’t paying attention, and getting angry will only worsen the situation.
- Assess the damage. If you get injured or the vehicle is damaged, you should immediately ask for medical help or a tow truck as soon as possible.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver. This will come in handy if you need to file a claim later on.
- Call the police. They’ll be able to sort everything out and ensure everyone is safe.
Here are ten more steps to follow after an accident.
Distracted driving is a severe problem. Although you may feel tempted to try or do a million things at once while driving, you must remember that safety should always come first. Avoid any distractions while driving that may affect your concentration. Stay alert and calm, use a route planner app, and you’ll get to your destination safely.