Distracted driving has become one of today’s most dangerous road hazards, even if you’re paying attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,153 American drivers are hurt and nine are killed every day in accidents where at least one of the drivers reports being sidetracked just before the crash.
In many preventable cases, smartphones are the main culprit. You might leave yours on silent mode until you reach your destination, but not everyone on the road is as cautious. With so many drivers texting and talking, following the tips below and educating others on the dangers of distracted driving can help you stay safe behind the wheel.
What You Can Do
• Set your GPS before you start your engine. When you need to change direction mid-trip, pull into a rest area or a gas station. You can also invest in a new gadget with voice-recognition technology. If you prefer to use maps or printed directions, thoroughly review your route before heading out.
• Save snacks and drinks for later. Multitasking behind the wheel slows down your reaction time, making it tougher to respond to unexpected threats quickly.
• Keep your car clean. Mobile phones aren’t the only things that can cause a lapse in attention. To avoid potentially dangerous distractions, get rid of clutter that can make noise in the back or roll into the driver’s seat while the car is moving.
• Restrain your pet. While you can tell kids to stay put, dog aren’t as accommodating. To make sure your pooch doesn’t jump in your lap on the highway, secure it in a crate or a travel harness.
How You Can Raise Public Awareness
• Speak up. If you’re a passenger in a car where the driver is being irresponsible, voice your concerns. Because they still feel in control, many people who eat or use technology behind the wheel underestimate the dangers of their behavior.
• Take advantage of federal and local community programs. In an effort to combat the growing distracted driving epidemic, many officials are heading awareness campaigns that could be implemented in any neighborhood. You can find most of their resources, including free starter campaign kits, online.
• Share laws and statistics. Giving real-life examples of what happens when drivers break the law or don’t pay full attention on the road can help you change the minds of people who don’t think distracted driving is a big deal.