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5 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving and Stay Safe on the Road

Distracted driving is becoming increasingly common—and increasingly dangerous. Whether you’re the occasional distracted driver or feel like you’re constantly playing with the volume on your playlist, we can all recognize that taking your focus off the road isn’t a great idea. While a lot of us consider ourselves to be decent multi-taskers, not even the best of us can safely steer the wheel while checking our Instagram.

And unfortunately, despite more and more laws enforcing safety while driving, phones and other diverting activities still seem to find their way into our cars. But, hey, knowledge is power! If you learn how to avoid distracted driving and how to stay alert on the road, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. Here are 5 tips to help you stay safe while driving and avoid distractions:

Discipline Yourself to Focus on Driving

Staying focused on the task of driving is essential to maintaining safety on the roads. The majority of crashes and near-misses occur not due to vehicle performance, but due to driver concentration. Many road safety experts note that drivers must remain aware of their surroundings, always be prepared for unexpected traffic situations, and practice basic discipline in order to remain safe on the road.

However, there are those who may argue that it’s simply not possible to completely avoid distractions while driving. After all, life can be hectic, and cars are noisy and uncomfortable. To an extent, this argument is valid—very few people can remain totally distracted while sitting in a car for long periods of time.

Despite this, research shows that imposing specific rules such as no electronic devices while driving or no eating or drinking behind the wheel can greatly reduce distraction levels and improve safety outcomes on the road. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that drivers regulate conversations with their passengers so as not to become unduly distracted by them. Additionally, many states have now imposed bans on handheld mobile phone use for drivers and continue to introduce more measures to limit distractions behind the wheel.

Therefore, it is important to discipline yourself to focus on driving when behind the wheel. Making conscious efforts, such as leaving meals until after your journey, is part of achieving safer outcomes when driving in traffic.

In order for drivers to remain truly safe on the road and minimize accidents caused by distraction, however, they must never forget that their primary focus should be their journey ahead of them at all times, from avoiding multitasking with the engine running to being aware of other vehicles sharing the road with them. Achieving this level of awareness depends on how attentively each driver balances their needs while in control of a vehicle.

Avoid Multitasking with Your Engine

It is important for drivers to regulate their multi-tasking while driving. Multi-tasking can be distracting and cause a lapse in judgment behind the wheel. On the one hand, some people believe that there are certain tasks that can be completed while driving safely, such as using turn-by-turn navigation systems to give directions or making phone calls with a hands-free device. However, on the other hand, evidence has demonstrated that any amount of distraction from the road takes its toll on driving performance. In fact, a 2017 research study found that drivers who use GPS devices are more likely to exhibit erratic braking and acceleration than those who drive without them. For this reason, it is advisable for drivers to avoid any tasks that take their eyes away from the road.

Making sure your hands are on the wheel is paramount for safe and controlled car operation, but this isn’t just about not typing on your phone or eating while you drive. It’s also about controlling your car in all kinds of weather conditions and handling issues while you’re behind the wheel. From light rain to heavy rain, strong winds, and sleet, an attentive driver needs to be ready to make changes and adjustments when necessary to stay safe on the road. The next tip will then give you more specific advice on how exactly to do this.

Keep Your Hands on the Wheel

Now that we’ve established the dangers of multi-tasking or operating your engine, let’s talk about perhaps the most practical and greatest way to stay safe on the road: keeping your hands on the wheel. Depending upon what kind of car you drive, your driving experience may be slightly different, and some counterarguments may exist—for instance, some cars can automatically keep in lanes, help avoid rear-ending vehicles, provide adaptive cruise control, and even parallel park themselves. Though these features are useful, they don’t replace a driver’s attentive concentration required when operating a vehicle, especially in more unpredictable traffic conditions. It’s still important to keep two hands near the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions with full attention as much as possible, since that is the safest way to ensure good control of your vehicle. When driving for extended periods of time, take regular breaks every hour and a half or two hours to give yourself time to rest and regain focus.

No matter what type of vehicle you’re in, never underestimate the importance of maintaining control over it. While current technology does have safety features that are helpful for motorists, no program can fully take over for a driver. Keeping your hands on the wheel ensures that you have maximum control over any potential hazards and difficult driving situations that could arise. By keeping our focus on what’s happening in front of us and having the security of both hands on the wheel if need be, we can reduce risk behind the wheel.

Now that we understand how critical it is to keep our hands on the wheel at all times, it’s important to be mindful of distractions around us as well in order to maximize safety.

Be Mindful of Distractions Around You

After we discussed the importance of keeping your hands on the wheel while driving, it is also important to be mindful of any distractions happening around you. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, both internally and externally. Internally, this could include daydreaming or worrying about things that have happened before or will happen after your drive, as well as feeling sleepy or drowsy. Externally, these distractions could be anything from loud music playing in the car to being distracted by other people in the vehicle with you.

The debate between internal and external distraction sources has been ongoing for some time. On one hand, numerous studies have concluded that external sources of distraction, such as loudly playing music, can significantly increase the risk of accidents in drivers (Regehr et al., 2010). However, some research has highlighted the potential dangers posed by internal distractions such as daydreaming for drivers too; findings suggest that it is just as dangerous as external distractions, if not more so, because it’s harder to identify (Haraldson et al., 2017).

No matter what type of distraction is behind the wheel, it all needs to be avoided at all costs while driving. One key piece of advice here is to keep your environment organized and inviting before you get behind the wheel: Turn off your phone and, if possible, leave it away; put away any decluttering items in your car; and make sure there are only a few people in the car and they are all paying attention to the road. When you’re aware of the potential distractions around you, you can guard yourself from them much more easily.

By being mindful of potential distractions around you while driving, you’ll take an extra step toward being safe on the road. But it does not stop there; to stay truly safe on the road during your drive, it’s imperative that we are aware of other potential hazards such as other drivers or pedestrians who cross our paths—often times unexpectedly. We’ll explore how to stay alert for others during our drive in our next section.

Stay Alert to Other Drivers and Pedestrians

Now that you are aware of the potential materials that can create distractions, it is just as important to stay alert to your surroundings and other drivers on the road. Establishing an awareness of potential hazards can help prevent serious accidents. Whenever you scan the area around you, look out for signs and signals, be mindful of other drivers who may not follow traffic laws and guidelines, and always be aware when pedestrians are near.

Distracted driving has become an epidemic on most roads, with no end in sight. But by staying alert to those around you and maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, you can minimize or avoid potentially dangerous situations. Additionally, reducing your speed can give you more time to identify potential threats or hazards and take the necessary action.

Through better vigilance, we can reduce overall risk on our roads as well as save ourselves from costly fines or, worse yet, life-altering injuries. What’s more, by staying aware of our surroundings, we will find that we get to our destination much faster than before due to fewer unnecessary delays caused by motorists with reckless behavior.

All in all, being mindful of those around us is a fundamental step toward preventing distracted driving and creating a safer atmosphere on all roads. By setting priorities while driving, such as following the laws of the road, focusing on getting to our destination safely rather than rapidly, and avoiding taking cell phone calls while driving, we can ensure that everyone stays safe while traveling on the road and reaches their destinations without issue.

Set Priorities While Driving

Drivers should set priorities while on the road. That means that all other activities, such as conversing with passengers, engaging in phone conversations, applying makeup, and more, should wait until they reach their destination safely. These distractions can take attention away from the task at hand and divert focus from what is really important—getting to your destination safely.

Despite this, some may argue that having conversations with passengers is a good way to stay connected with friends and family while spending time in the car and is completely harmless. However, research has shown that even conversing with someone in the car can be a distraction. Studies have shown that drivers who engage in conversations with others have slower reaction times and may not be able to accurately observe their surroundings while they are talking and listening.

Overall, drivers should make safety a priority while on the road by avoiding or limiting multitasking or distractions of any kind behind the wheel. Every second spent adapting to outside events or having conversations is another second taken away from safe driving. Rather than letting distractions take control of the situation, drivers should strive to maintain focus and prioritize safety first.

It is also important for drivers to maintain an emotional connection when behind the wheel through strategies like communicating effectively with fellow passengers and appropriately expressing frustration in certain situations. An effective way to do this is to prioritize conversations with friends and family when in the car, so everyone arrives at their destination safely and stress-free.

Prioritize Conversations with Friends

While it can be tempting to chat with friends while driving, this should be a priority that is placed on the back burner. Driving while talking is considered a form of distraction and is, unsurprisingly, dangerous and even potentially deadly. In the split second it takes to switch focus from the roadway to the conversation, your attention potentially slips away from the ever-changing environment in which you drive, which can lead directly to an accident.

At times, conversations with friends are necessary, but being aware of when and how much you talk while behind the wheel is essential. When you receive a call or text message while driving, consider if the conversation can wait until you arrive at your destination. If you do have an important conversation in progress, keep it as concise as possible and steer away from topics that could be interpreted as complex or emotionally-charged.

The safest thing you can do behind the wheel is to place your entire focus on the road and its surrounding environment. While there may be times where chatting with someone is unavoidable, it’s best to keep those conversations minimalistic and avoid putting yourself in compromising positions that could lead to an unnecessary accident or worse.

By prioritizing what moments you decide to take part in during conversations with friends while operating a vehicle, we ensure our safety on the roads and allow ourselves the ability to remain focused on what matters—getting to our destinations safely. With technology rapidly advancing, there are several ways we can help when it comes to avoiding distracted driving—which we will discuss next.

Employ the Help of Technology for Distracted Driving

Technology can be both a blessing and a curse for drivers, as it can serve to both assist and prevent distracted driving, depending on how it is used. Smartphones have become an essential accessory in our everyday lives, but using cell phones while driving should be avoided as much as possible. However, rather than completely abstain from responding to a text or phone call, many drivers opt to take potentially risky shortcuts by utilizing smartphone devices while they are operating the vehicle, such as hands-free phone calls and voice-recognition texting programs. While these may appear safer than manually manipulating a device while driving, simply having a conversation with someone who is not in the car can still be distracting.

It is important to remember that even though hands-free activities may be less risky than other manual tasks that require taking your eyes off the road, they likely will still interfere with your primary task of focusing on the road ahead and remaining alert. Researchers such as Dr. Gene R. Isebaum from the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety found that hands-free technology could still impair reaction and reflex times for drivers when compared with those without any technology at all—even if their eyes were focused on the road. Drivers should consider these risks before giving into the potential convenience of making phone calls or sending messages via voice recognition systems while behind the wheel.

Overall, various forms of technology can aid drivers in remaining attentive behind the wheel, but care must be taken to ensure that these technologies are not overused or abused while driving. Rather than relying too heavily on technological assistance while driving, drivers should recognize what form of assistance would be most effective for their own needs and should also be aware of its potential downsides if misused or overused. This careful consideration will bolster safety outcomes regardless of whether drivers decide to use technology or prioritize conversations with friends. With this in mind, drivers should consider supplementing their attentiveness with other measures, such as using hands-free aids for their cell phones, which relieve some but not all of the risks associated with cellular usage behind the wheel.

Use Hands-Free Devices for Your Cell Phone

With the help of technology, hands-free devices can be extremely useful when it comes to avoiding distracted driving. Many cellphone owners are now making sure to have a hands-free device installed in their vehicles, such as a Bluetooth car kit, or just simply keep their phones away from easy reach. Hands-free devices allow motorists to make and receive calls safely with the touch of a button and without having to physically handle their phone. This decreases the temptation to use their phone while driving because they don’t need to pick it up or look directly at its screen. When using these devices, it is important to remember that distractions still exist even though you are not looking directly at your phone—other conversations may prove distracting, and you should focus on the road first and foremost even when using hands-free features.

At the same time, there is growing debate over how beneficial hands-free devices really are in terms of safety. Some experts argue that multi-tasking while on the road is especially dangerous—even if you are only listening and not engaging directly with your phone. Studies have found that motorists tend to take longer glances away from the road with these kinds of devices than they would if talking on their phone—which can lead to potentially fatal collisions. Supporters of hands-free tools counter this by claiming that there is potential for less distraction if drivers stick only to basic calls and text messages and refrain from any life conversations or other elaborate tasks on their phones through these devices.

No matter which side of the argument you are on, it is clear that motorists should always stay aware of their surroundings when behind the wheel. Although hands-free devices can be helpful in avoiding distracted driving, safety must remain top priority, so prioritize looking ahead and listening carefully to traffic conditions rather than focusing solely on what people are saying when using such technologies.

To ensure further safety on the roads, always keep your eyes forward, ears open, and mind alert while driving—avoiding any form of distraction can greatly increase your chances of arriving safely at your destination.

Always Ensure Your Safety While Driving

When it comes to ensuring your safety on the road, always be aware of your surroundings and take every precaution necessary. To do this, you should always wear your seatbelt and ensure that other passengers in the car are wearing theirs as well. By doing so, you can limit the potential for injury or death if an accident were to occur. Additionally, avoid driving when you are feeling overly tired or overwhelmed. Driving while drowsy is a common cause of serious accidents, so make sure to get a good night’s rest before getting behind the wheel.

When it comes to using hands-free devices while driving, there is some debate surrounding the safety of such devices. On one hand, some argue that hands-free technology helps reduce distracted driving because users’ eyes remain on the road throughout their conversations. This allows drivers to focus on the task at hand rather than multitasking by talking and looking away from the road. On the other hand, critics argue that hands-free technology can still cause distractions. A study by AAA found that conversations conducted via any type of device (even hands-free) still cause cognitive distractions for drivers and can lead to slower reaction times and decreased awareness on the roadway.

Overall, it is important to remember that no matter how cautious you may be in other ways, using a phone while driving can still be dangerous. If you need to use your phone, fully pullover in a safe area, and then resume your journey once you are done. Doing so will help ensure your safety and put all drivers around you at ease, knowing you won’t be distracted by what’s going on outside of your vehicle. 

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys Today to Discuss Your Distracted Driving Accident Case

At Frischman and Rizza, we know that distracted driving is a serious issue that can cause devastating accidents and injuries. That’s why we’ve compiled these 5 tips to help you avoid distracted driving and stay safe on the road. However, accidents can still happen even when we take precautions. If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our experienced attorneys are here to help. 

Contact us at (412) 291-9377 to discuss your case and learn how we can assist you in pursuing the compensation you deserve.

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