Are You Eating a Crash Diet?
Safe Driving Tips
If you are eating in your vehicle while driving, you are focusing on your food and not on your driving. You are not only chewing and swallowing; you are also opening packages, unwrapping and re-wrapping food, reaching, leaning, spilling, wiping, and cleaning yourself or your vehicle. These are quite a number of distractions for one driver on one trip. You are safer when you stop to eat or drink. Allow yourself plenty of time to stop, rest from driving, and enjoy your meal.
Are You Being Driven to Distraction?
What do children, friends, and pets all have in common? All can be dangerous distractions while driving.
Teach your young children that driving is an important job and that you must concentrate when you are behind the wheel. Buckle up your children properly. Give them distractions—books, games, or other appropriate toys to occupy their time. If you need to attend to your children, pull over to a safe place. Do not try to handle children while you are driving.
When you are driving with friends and relatives, establish some strategies to keep your passengers under control. A carload of friends can be very distracting with loud talking, quarreling over music selections, or roughhousing. Arguments and other disturbing conversations should be held in a safe, appropriate place, not while you are driving in your vehicle.
A loose pet in a moving vehicle can be very dangerous. Properly secure your pet in a pet carrier, portable kennel, or specially designed pet harness when you are driving.
Turning Dials Can Turn Your Head
Making destination entries on an in-vehicle navigation system, radio surfing for a good song, or adjusting your vehicle’s climate controls are distracting activities that can put you in danger of a vehicle collision or near collision. The availability of in-vehicle Internet and email access from cell phones, tablets, and other portable devices are added distractions that increase your risk of a collision if you engage in these activities while driving.
- Adjust your vehicle’s controls (climate controls, mirrors, radio, seat, etc.) before you begin to drive.
- Check your email, voice mail, and text messages before you begin to drive.
- Take advantage of normal stops to adjust controls.
- Ask your passenger to adjust the radio, climate control, navigation system, etc. for you.
Looks Can Kill…
Looking out your window at what you are passing while driving can be a distraction if you are concentrating on:
- An accident.
- A vehicle pulled over by law enforcement.
- Construction work.
- A billboard advertisement.
- A scenic view.
- Street names and addresses.
Always focus on your driving. It is crucial that you remain alert while on the road to arrive at your destination safely.
Distractions and Young Drivers
The leading cause of death for 15–20 year olds are vehicle collisions. Vehicle collisions make up approximately one-third of all deaths for this age group. More collisions occur when passengers, usually other teens, are in the vehicle with a teen driver. Statistics show 2 out of 3 teens die as passengers in a vehicle driven by another teen.
These statistics are caused by a teen’s immaturity, driving inexperience, overconfidence, and risk-taking behaviors. Before your teen takes to the road, explain to them the dangers of engaging in distracting activities and driving. Many teens do not see the connection between the things that distract them and their age group’s high rate of vehicle collisions and death.
Give your teen strategies and rules to help them keep their passengers under control. No roughhousing, provoking the driver to speed, or engaging in any other type of dangerous activity while riding in a vehicle.
Instruct your teen to set up their radio, CD player, iPod or any other music playing device before driving and to play the music at a listening level that is not distracting. Regardless of age, it is illegal to wear headphones or earplugs in both ears when driving a motor vehicle or riding a bicycle.
Talk with your teen about how to deal with driving distractions. Discuss what could happen if they try to answer a cell phone, send a text message, search for music, or spill a drink on themselves while they are driving. Explain the importance of driving safely and staying alive.
Other Deadly Distractions
In this age of multi-tasking, it is common to do more than one task at the same time. You already multi-task when you are driving; your mind and body are working simultaneously to drive your vehicle. You should not add another task on top of what you already need to do to drive safely. These tasks should never be done while you are driving:
- Reading a newspaper, book, or map.
- Personal grooming, such as hair grooming, shaving, or applying makeup.
- Smoking, lighting up, or putting out a cigarette.
- Working in your car: typing on a laptop, making business calls, and writing notes or reports.
When driving, the condition of the road and the behavior of other drivers can change abruptly, leaving you little or no time to react. When you are driving, follow these rules:
- Stay focused.
- Pay attention.
- Expect the unexpected.
These tips can help you continue to drive and arrive at your destination safely:
- Ensure all passengers are wearing a safety belt properly.
- Be well-rested and in the appropriate mindset to drive. Driving while you are upset or angry can be just as dangerous as driving when you are tired.
- Identify and reduce distractions when you are driving.
- Do not tailgate.
- Allow sufficient time to reach your destination.
- Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained.
Driver distractions reduce your awareness to the driving environment, your decision-making process, and your driving performance. This results in collisions or near collisions that require you and/or other drivers on the road to take corrective actions. Drive safe and stay alive. Keep your mind on driving, your eyes on the road, and your hands on the wheel!