Driving while distracted can be incredibly dangerous. It only takes a split second for something to go wrong on the road and if you’re not paying attention the consequences could be dire.
Unfortunately, due to mobile phones, in-car technology and poor driving habits, too many Australians don’t pay proper attention to the road while driving. Research suggests that almost 15% of car crashes involve driver distraction.
So, if you don’t want to become a statistic, check out our tips to help you keep your eyes on the road.
1. Plan your Playlists
Listening to your favourite music or the latest podcast is a great way to make your daily drive or a long road trip more enjoyable. However, while you’re driving isn’t the time to be scrolling through your music or podcast library.
While it might be frustrating to listen to a song that isn’t clicking with you, the alternative is much worse. Any distraction while driving could be fatal. For instance, looking away from the road to find that classic tune could be all it takes for you to accidentally veer off the road and crash.
Before setting off on your journey, make a playlist of music or podcasts you like to listen to and set it to play automatically. You can even create multiple playlists to suit your mood or your destination.
Additionally, avoid having your music turned up excessively loud. Not only does loud music make it harder to focus, but it can drown out important sounds like horns from other road users and sirens from passing emergency vehicles.
2. Keep your Phone in Place
While it can be tempting to shoot off a few texts while sitting in traffic or to check your social media, you need to avoid this temptation.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use your phone while driving though. With a Bluetooth handsfree car kit, you can still make calls and catch up with friends on your daily commute. Just make sure you keep your eyes on the road.
3. Avoid Eating and Driving
An early start can make finding time for breakfast tricky, but that’s no excuse for eating while driving. Whether it’s the full-on flavour distracting you or that stray chip drawing your focus as it falls, it’s better to pull over to eat. Not only is it safer, but you can also enjoy your food without any distractions.
4. Get Ready before Driving
As with eating, find time before driving or after you’ve reached your destination to get yourself ready. This could include a morning skincare regime, doing your make-up or even brushing your teeth.
5. Know your Route
With modern GPS technology, there’s no excuse for not knowing the route anymore. This is great news for reducing the number of distracted drivers on the road.
Knowing where you’re going ensures that you don’t become a road hazard yourself. For instance, if you’re trying to remember which way to turn, you might drive more slowly. Other drivers may not be prepared for this change in speed and a pile-up can quickly occur.
However, make sure you program your route before setting off. Mount your phone in a special holder so you can easily check the map without looking away from the road. Alternatively, you can set your GPS app to verbally tell you which way to go.
6. Explain Safe Driving Rules to Kids and Passengers
If you’ve got young kids, it can be helpful to have specific rules in the car. These should be made in order to limit distractions for you while you drive. For instance, you could have a rule about using ‘inside voices’ in the car, or only asking mum or dad a question when the car is stopped.
For new drivers, it can be helpful to have rules when first driving with passengers. This could include no music or only one to two passengers at a time.
The behaviour of passengers can have a significant effect on the driver. Loud conversations and screaming kids can make it harder to focus and easier for accidents to happen.
7. Secure Loads and Pets
If you regularly drive with loads in your car or furry friends, make sure they’re secured. A loose package or an excited pup can quickly distract a driver.
If you’re transporting anything breakable or heavy, make sure it is secured. An unsecured load can quickly become a distraction, whether it’s getting in the way as you’re driving or you’re paying more attention to it than the road.
Similarly, if your dog can freely move around your car, they may accidentally hit buttons on the console or limit your ability to steer effectively. While trying to wrestle your dog back into their spot, your attention is taken away from the road, making an accident more likely.
8. Get a Good night’s Sleep
Around 10% of Australia’s road fatalities each year are the result of fatigue. Limit driver fatigue by making sure you’re well rested before you get behind the wheel.
We need energy to stay focused. Just as you might struggle at work when you’ve had too little sleep, the same principle applies to driving. A tired driver may stop paying attention to the road in front of them, for instance.
If you’re feeling sleepy while driving, pull over in a designated rest stop and take a nap. It’s better to arrive late than not at all.
9. Make sure you’ve got Plenty of Time
Like getting plenty of sleep, make it easier for yourself to stay focused while driving by ensuring you’ve got lots of time to get to your destination. Feeling rushed or under pressure can reduce your focus, as well as your ability to make good decisions. It may also encourage you to engage in other distracted driving behaviour, like eating or doing your hair.
There’s no good reason to drive distracted. If you do, you put your life and the lives of others at risk. Follow the tips above for a safer drive every time.