Distracted driving is one of the most dangers forms of operating a vehicle on both public and private roads. Motorists who engage in this behavior are consciously and willingly risking not only their own lives, but the lives of all those sharing the streets and highways with them. The most prominent form of distracted driving is cell phone use, although there are many additional activities that may divert a driver’s gaze and attention away from traffic. There are several important guidelines to follow to protect yourself from engaging in such dangerous behaviors (and from being struck by someone who does have these habits).
How to Drive Distraction-Free
As mentioned above, it’s tempting to allow yourself to briefly check your phone for social media updates, new emails, and other such communications. However, you must remind yourself that these things can wait. They are not as urgent as your need to pay attention to the happenings surrounding you. To prevent yourself from picking up the phone and scrolling through yours and your friends’ profiles while behind the wheel, try some of the following preventative measures:
- Turn your phone on silent as soon as you get into the car. Leave it muted for as long as you are traveling.
- Delegate the responsibility of answering phone calls or text messages to one of your passengers.
- If necessary, disable notifications from your social media platforms.
Remember that finicking with the radio or changing the destination of your navigational app is also considered to be distracted driving, as these things, too, take your attention away from your vehicle. If you need to answer the phone or make such changes, pull to the shoulder of the highway or into a parking lot if you are on city streets.
Additionally, attempting to manage rowdy children or pets is a form of multitasking that can easily get you into trouble in terms of your safety behind the wheel. Whenever you are traveling with passengers, verify that all are secured in their seatbelts, kennels, car seats, whatever it may be, before driving off. It will save both your life and theirs.
Identifying and Avoiding Distracted Drivers
You’ll need to drive defensively to ensure that you steer clear of any motorists who may not be as vigilant in securing their safety as you. To do so, keep an eye out for the following signals that will clue you into whether a driver has their full attention on the road or not:
- Drifting between lanes.
- Driving at alternating speeds.
- Sudden stopping or delayed acceleration at green lights.
If you observe any of these behaviors, distance yourself from that vehicle as soon and safely as possible. They are clearly not exercising the necessary care to avoid any collisions, so you must be proactive in your efforts to protect yourself and your loved ones from danger. You can either pass them or allow them to pass you, pull over until they are out of sight, or change lanes to increase the distance between your cars.
No matter what you choose, you are responsible for keeping yourself, your passengers, and other motorists on the road safe. Familiarize yourself with the factors that characterize distracted driving and hold yourself and others accountable for avoiding them entirely.