Distracted driving: It’s more than you think!

Kelly LespierDistracted driving has gained a lot of attention in recent years, with many people blaming the increased technology. While the advancement of mobile technology has played a huge role in distracted driving, there are other aspects that contribute to this problem.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three types of driver distraction:1

  • Visual: taking eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking hands off the steering wheel
  • Cognitive: taking mind off of driving

Common examples of these distractions – and ways to help minimize the risks – include:

Meals/Beverages – In this age of multi-tasking, coffee is a staple to start the morning. It is not uncommon to stop for food or beverage and eat on your way to your next destination. However, this activity could take your eyes off the road for a second or more, increasing your risk for a crash. Eliminating these activities is the best choice, but if you cannot refrain from them, be cognizant of what you are doing and the consequences it could have.

Radio – Do you have an older car where the audio controls are not on the steering wheel? The few seconds that it takes to look down could result in a collision. Try to choose your desired station before you leave and only change stations while stopped at stop signs or red lights by using your pre-assigned buttons. In newer cars, always utilize forward or back buttons on steering wheel to browse stations.

Children/Pets – Is a child in the back seat misbehaving? Yelling, crying or throwing things? Do not turnaround to reprimand. If age appropriate, try explaining how their behavior is being disruptive and potentially unsafe. If you need a break or to stop the chaos, pull over to a safe location and handle the situation responsibly. Pets should be secured in the car for their own safety and to minimize distraction to the driver.

Cell phones – Even with bans on handheld devices while driving, cell phones are one of the leading causes of accidents over the last few years and the numbers continue to rise.2 Many drivers feel they can text and stay in control, but it only takes a second to destroy so many lives. There are apps and notifications that can help reduce the temptation to respond to a text. An auto responder will notify your sender you are driving and will respond when at destination. Voice recognition will convert your spoken words to text using Sync® or Bluetooth®. Text blockers are perfect for parents to prevent teens from texting while driving because they disable texting when vehicles exceed 10 mph. While you may encounter some initial resistance when using these tools, in the end, everyone should agree that safety comes first.

Conversation – Whether chatting with friends or catching up on business with a colleague, conversation can make the trip seem to go faster. However, be mindful that these conversations can take your focus off the road. Drivers may want to limit their participation in the discussion, especially during heavy traffic or adverse weather.

Kelly Lespier is a Premier Account Specialist with Chubb Personal Risk Services’ Risk Consulting Group.

1 https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html
2 https://www.dmv.org/articles/death-by-text-message-stats-show-how-technology-is-killing-us/

 

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