While some distractions have not changed, today we have plenty of additional distractions. The biggest culprit tends to be cellphones. We use them to communicate by talking or texting. We use them as a GPS device. We use them to stream our favorite music. While obvious to most, there are studies that have shown that texting and driving is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.
Whether it is a text, GPS, or music, it seems that many people just can’t seem to take their hands, or eyes, off their phone screens. This year, try to eliminate distractions by completing texts or conversations before getting behind the wheel, program your music before the ride, and program your GPS before you leave instead of while in route to your destination.
While cellphones have rightly been portrayed as one of the worst driver distractions, some “old school” distractions remain, like passengers, the radio, and eating or drinking. Passengers, including children, can sometimes generate a loss of focus. Whether it’s a toddler throwing a fit or simply a conversation with your best friend in the passenger seat, do not let your passengers take your eyes or attention off the road. Eating and drinking behind the wheel takes your hands, eyes, and focus off the road even in the best conditions. When food or drinks are dropped or spilled, that distraction could pose a serious risk. Be smart and play it safe. Give yourself a few minutes to eat that snack before hitting the road. Make it your mission to eliminate distractions, stay focused, and get to your destination safely.