Every day, about 8 people in the United States are killed in crashes that are reported to include a distracted driver, according to the CDC.
And during the holidays, we can anticipate a roughly 33% jump in distracted driving, according to TrueMotion, a company that develops apps for collecting driving data.
As you plan your holiday trips, it’s important to identify — and eliminate — all potential distractions while driving. Doing so can keep the roads safer for both you and other drivers.
Not sure how? Don’t think this applies to you? Read on. You may be surprised at how distracted you really are.
Common Driving Distractions
According to the CDC, all distractions on the road fall into three categories:
- Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road
- Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive distractions involve taking your mind off driving
And the worst distractions can involve any combination of the three. For example, using your phone counts as a visual, manual, and cognitive distraction; you’re looking at the screen, holding the phone in your hand, and focusing on the phone instead of the road.
But while cell phone use is one of the first distractions we think of, it’s definitely not the only one. Grooming, eating, and — yes — changing the radio station or the A/C also force us to turn our attention elsewhere, even if just for a moment.
Here are the best ways to take multitasking out of your driving routine.
How to Avoid Driving Distractions
The best way to avoid distracted driving is to anticipate the distractions before you get on the road. That way, you can give your full attention to each one, without putting you or others at risk.
Ditch the Phone
Before you leave, there are a number of things you can to ensure that you won’t need to check your phone while driving.
First, make any texts, phone calls, or emails before you leave. If you’re in the middle of a conversation, let the person know you’re about to hit the road and that you’ll respond once you’ve arrived safely.
Next, disable notifications on your phone. This process may look different for every user, but most smartphones have a “do not disturb” function that blocks your phone from alerting you to new notifications.
Then, secure your phone in a place where you won’t be tempted to reach for it during the drive. If you’re using your phone’s navigation system to get to your destination, make sure to mount it to your car’s dashboard before you leave and leave only the map on the screen.
Tip: If you’re using your phone for navigation or music, make sure to connect it before you leave. Don’t touch your phone again until you’ve arrived.
Get Ready Beforehand
Before you leave, make sure your seats, mirrors, and other settings are adjusted to your liking before you start driving. This goes for the air conditioning and the radio dials, too.
If you’re bringing pets, passengers, or loose belongings, make sure they’re settled in. Ensure all passengers are wearing seatbelts. Make your pet’s kennel or harness secure and comfortable. Make sure any loose articles won’t go flying when you brake or make a turn. That way, you won’t have to reach for them while driving.
And if you didn’t have time to finish your makeup or hair, save it for later. If needed, sneak off to a restroom to take care of it when you arrive. Whoever is waiting for you will care less about your appearance and more that you’re unharmed.
Pull Over if You Need To
Sometimes, distractions are unavoidable. Maybe you got an emergency phone call. Maybe your dish for the family pot luck fell over, and you need to make sure it’s okay. Or maybe you just need to finish your breakfast.
Remember that your emotions can also be a cognitive distraction. If you are angry, upset, or tired, your full attention may not be on the road.
If that’s the case, pull over or park in a safe area until all distractions have been addressed. Make sure to gradually slow down and signal your intent to do so, and make sure your car is visible if you’re on the side of the road.
What to Do if You’re Involved in a Crash
Unfortunately, eliminating your distractions doesn’t mean other drivers have done the same. If you’re involved in a crash, don’t panic. Here’s what to do:
Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If your car is still safe to drive, try to pull over to safety. That way, emergency vehicles have a clear path to get to you.
Then, call 911. Even in the case of minor fender-benders, calling the police ensures the crash will be documented — and in some states, it’s legally required.
While you’re waiting for help to arrive, exchange information with the other involved drivers. Generally, you’ll need:
- The other driver’s name and contact information
- Their insurance company and policy number
- Their driver’s license and plate numbers
- The type, model, and color of their vehicle
- The location of the accident
Document the accident for your own records, too. Make sure to get the names and badge numbers of the responding officers and what agencies they’re with. Take photos of the damage and request a copy of the crash report.
Write down the names of all passengers involved, and if there were witnesses, get their names and contact information, too.
Also, know when to go to a doctor after your accident. You may not feel any pain in the immediate aftermath, but you could start to feel the impact even weeks later. Going to the doctor, even if you don’t think you need to, is the best way to make sure you’re okay.
Stay Focused and Avoid Driving Distractions on the Road This Holiday Season
Distracted driving is among the leading causes of car crashes in the U.S. — especially with more drivers on the road during the holiday season.
But that doesn’t have to be you. Now you know some of the most common distractions while driving and how to avoid them.
If you’ve been involved in a distracted driving accident, reach out to us today at Car Accident Lawyer. We specialize in car, motorcycle, and trucking accidents; that way, you can focus more on recovering and less on your pressing legal concerns.