Everybody knows that distracted driving is a problem. People talking on cell phones are responsible for an alarming number of accidents every year, and states are cracking down on them.
What you might not be aware of, however, is the variety of other distractions that make it easy to stop paying attention to the road. We often don’t even know we’re being distracted until it’s too late.
To make you a safer and more attentive driver, here’s a list of seven common distractions that are easy to forget about!
Eating while driving is incredibly distracting, but something as simple as drinking a cup of coffee can be, too. It only takes two seconds off the road to be distracted, which is all the time it takes to glance down to grab a Starbucks and take a sip.
Your best bet is to take a sip while sitting at a traffic light, or waiting until you get to work to start getting your caffeine fix in.
Your Air Conditioning and Heater
Just like a sip of coffee, fiddling with your air conditioning or heating unit can cause enough of a distraction to lead to an accident. If you’re looking down to see what temperature setting you have on, your eyes aren’t on the road.
Your best course of action is to simply set the temperature before you start driving. If you need to make any adjustments during the drive, wait until you’re at a complete stop, or ask a passenger to do it.
Listening to Distracting Music
By now you should realize that playing with your radio can cause a distraction. However, even listening to certain music might distract you. Studies show that listening to the wrong kind of music can greatly increase your chances of getting into an accident.
What exactly is the wrong type of music? Here’s what to look for:
- Music that entices you to sing and dance along to it.
- Music that invokes distracting thoughts or memories.
- Music that provokes you to drum along with your hands.
Scenes outside your vehicle can be just as distracting as the ones inside of them. It’s natural to want to look at gorgeous scenery, traffic accidents, or interesting road-side stands. It’s also dangerous, however. You tend to drive towards whatever you’re looking at, which is why you need to constantly look straight ahead. Glancing towards the side of the road often forces you to begin to veer off-track.
Keep your eyes in front of you and your hands on the steering wheel. If something is really that interesting, park your vehicle before taking a closer look.
Friends and family make great road-trip companions, but they’re also quite distracting. It’s perfectly fine to chat with your passengers, but make sure not to take your eyes off the road as you talk to them. If they get too distracting, politely remind them that you’re driving and have to pay attention to the road.
Getting lost in your own thoughts is easy when you’re driving, but it’s one of the most common distraction. Insurance providers estimate that daydreaming accounts for an incredible percent of car accidents.
Instead of using your driving time to reflect and make peace with your day, try to find another avenue. Go for a quick walk or jog, or try mediation. Just make sure to concentrate when you’re behind the wheel!
If you drop something while you’re driving, reaching to grab it is the worst thing you can do. Not only are you taking your hand off the wheel, you’re not paying attention, either. The best thing to do is either pull over, wait until a red light, or wait until you’ve reached your destination.
If you dropped your cell phone, it’s probably best that you dropped it, anyway!
Become Even Safer With Defensive Driving
If you want to become the safest driver possible, take the time to enroll in a defensive driving course. You’ll learn how to drive defensively, ensuring that you don’t succumb to most distractions. As an added bonus, you’ll can lose traffic points, get traffic tickets thrown out, or even reduce your monthly car insurance premium.