Distraction is one of the top causes of accidents on the roadways today. In fact, every day in this country, about nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, says the CDC. There’s little doubt that distracted driving in all its many forms is dangerous. This was responsible for claiming the lives of more than 3,100 people in 2017 alone, according to the NHTSA.
Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from driving, including talking/texting on your phone, eating/drinking, talking to others in your vehicle, or using the entertainment or navigation system. Texting is the most common distraction. Did you know that sending or reading a simple text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds or more? If you’re going 55 mph, this is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes shut.
The simple fact of the matter is, you can’t drive safely unless your full attention is on the road in front of you. Any non-driving activity you engage in, from applying makeup to eating a bagel and drinking coffee for breakfast, is a distraction waiting to happen that boosts your risk of crashing.
We’ve compiled this list of 19 ways to avoid distraction while behind the wheel.
#1: Put your phone on airplane or do not disturb mode while driving. If you just can’t seem to resist the temptation of touching your phone, put it in the back seat or in the glove compartment until you get to your destination.
#2: Clean your windshield regularly. Make sure you have enough wiper fluid. Obstructions of any kind can cut down on your reaction time.
#3: Don’t apply makeup in the car. Not only does this take your eyes off the road, it’s dangerous if you get in a fender bender. That mascara wand can impale your eye!
#4: Avoid eating or drinking. You may think it’s a harmless activity, but adding cream to your coffee or reaching for fries in the takeout bag takes your eyes off the road for precious seconds.
#5: Limit distractions with passengers. Save lengthy discussions or arguments for later. When your mind is pre-occupied with what you’ll say next, it’s not on the road.
#6: Let dropped items go. If you drop your phone, your purse tips over or your child loses a toy in the backseat, let it go. Pull over if you must retrieve it.
#7: Remove rolling balls at once. If you notice a ball has come loose and is rolling around, pull over safely and retrieve it. Balls can get lodged under your gas and brake pedals and lead to an unfortunate accident. Better yet, don’t allow balls in the car to begin with.
#8: Don’t text at red lights. Most people know it’s not OK to text while in the act of driving, but yet they don’t hesitate to pull out their phones at a red light. Your undivided attention is still needed at red lights so you know when it turns green, and to look out for other drivers who may also be distracted.
#9: Don’t be distracted by kids and dogs in the backseat. Crying children, excited kids and hyper dogs can all compete for your attention. Tune them out and concentrate on the road ahead.
#10: Avoid jacking up the volume. Yes, we all love to listen to our favorite tunes loudly on a nice summer day. But with loud volumes come the inability to hear vital clues around you, such as approaching police vehicles or ambulances.
#11: Avoid rubbernecking. We all do it, yet we curse the looky-loos who tie up traffic just to check out an accident on the side of the road. Move on and worry about your own safety.
#12: Avoid gawking at pulled-over vehicles. Just be grateful it’s not you, and move past the police officer pulling over a fellow driver.
#13: Avoid tailgating. The California DMV recommends following the “3 second rule”: when the vehicle ahead of you passes a certain point, such as a landmark or sign, count “one-thousand-one, one-thousand- two, one-thousand-three.” This takes about three seconds to do. If you pass that same point before finishing counting, you are following the car ahead of you too closely.
#14: Avoid rowdy passengers. This is good advice to give your teen driver. Tell them to keep the radio down, encourage friends to relax, and to save the fun for the final destination. Friends who yell, jump around and cause a ruckus are major sources of distraction.
#15: Wear sunglasses and use your visor. At peak solar glare times, such as sunrise and sunset, make sure you have your sunglasses handy and your visor down.
#16: Don’t smoke and drive. Lighting a cigarette and smoking it while driving can distract you just enough to miss a critical cue.
#17: Avoid basic grooming tasks. Just like applying makeup, avoid shaving, fixing your clothes, and doing your hair while behind the wheel.
#18: Don’t put your convertible top up while in traffic. Some cars allow you to do this with a push of a button. It doesn’t mean you should do this while driving. Pull over to put the top on safely.
#19: Don’t overreact to outside stimuli: If someone honks at you or yells at you in anger, ignore it and keep your eyes straight ahead. These are unproductive distractions that can take your attention from the road. By ignoring this behavior, you’re also avoiding the temptation to engage in road rage, which can result in a tragic accident.
Many of us are guilty of some or all of these things. We must strive to do better, be more conscious of our surroundings, and make a pledge to change.
Contact Kuzyk Law
If you have sustained an injury in an accident due to someone else’s distracted driving, contact us today at 661-945-6969 for your free initial consultation. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of experience handling these types of accidents in LA and surrounding areas.