April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month - a time to bring attention to this important issue. Distracted driving is the cause of many roadway fatalities and is also tied to higher insurance costs, which are passed down to consumers.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), a recent report stated there were approximately 3,200 fatal automobile crashes attributed to distracted driving, which equates to 9 percent of overall traffic fatalities in the U.S. The NAIC also found that insurance premiums have increased by 16 percent over the past 10 years due to distracted driving.
Although most people might initially think about use of their mobile phones when it comes to distracted driving, the NAIC warns that anything else that takes the drivers attention while behind the wheel can also be a problem. Some other distractions to avoid while operating a motor vehicle include: looking after children or pets, eating, reading, applying makeup, or adjusting the radio.
Here are some helpful tips to prevent distracted driving:
Multitasking at the Wheel
While there is little you can do to control other people’s driving, there is plenty you can do to reduce your own distractions. Do not engage in any of the following while driving:
Stay Off the Phone
Cellphones are a common driver distraction. Driving while talking on the phone is dangerous because you cannot adequately divide your attention between the road and your conversation. In fact, reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk. If you must talk on your phone while driving, using a hands-free device will at least let you keep both hands on the wheel.
Even more dangerous than talking on the phone is texting. More texting leads to more crashes. With each additional 1 million text messages, fatalities from distracted driving rose more than 75%. People under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.
Studies show that drivers who send or receive text messages focus their attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blind. Drivers should always refrain from texting, checking email, programming a mobile GPS device or using the phone in any way while driving. If necessary, silence or turn off the phone.
To combat the growing danger of phone use while driving, many states have enacted laws against texting and handheld cellphone use. Not only could you be endangering yourself and those around you, but phone use while driving could cost you a lot of money in fines.
Get Plenty of Rest
Driving any distance requires you to be physically and mentally well-rested. Fatigue plays a large role in motor vehicle accidents and can be a major element in driving distractions. If you become drowsy, pull off the road and take a short nap.
Know Where You Are Going
Before you set out for a new location, familiarize yourself with the route. If you need to check your map or call for directions along the way, pull over before doing so.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Alcohol is the single greatest contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle accidents. Never drive while intoxicated. If you are going to an event that serves alcohol, know how you’re getting home beforehand and act accordingly. If necessary, program the number for a taxicab service into your phone or call for an Uber. Be aware that some prescription medications may also have debilitating effects on your driving.
Practice Defensive Driving
In addition to avoiding distractions, you should give your full attention to driving defensively. This can help minimize the risk of an auto accident. It’s important that you are aware of other drivers around you and make adjustments to your driving accordingly.
While on the roadways, follow these tips:
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