April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an opportunity to reconsider your on-the-road habits to ensure you and others safely arrive at your destination. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people died in 2015 due to accidents caused by distracted driving.
While texting may be the most well-known cause of distracted driving, eating, applying makeup, flossing, looking up directions, and changing the radio station are all examples (and yes, people have done all of these). Anything that takes your eyes and attention away from the road has the potential to create distractions that could cause an accident. You may not realize it, but any of those actions takes enough time for you to drive the length of entire football fields. If someone pulls out in front of you or brakes quickly, you might miss it, not to mention you risk drifting into another lane or missing a stop sign or red light.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to stay focused on the road and prevent potential accidents as a result of distracted driving:
- Keep your cell phone in your bag or in the backseat so it does not tempt you
- Program auto-text responses while driving so people know you’re unable to respond right now
- Queue up directions in your GPS ahead of time and familiarize yourself with your route so you don’t need to repeatedly refer to the map
- If you need to eat, stretch or take a walk to shake off drowsiness, pull over at the first available safe spot
- As tough as it might be, ignore kids’ bickering or requests for snacks while driving – explain to the kids the importance of focusing while driving, and pull over when it’s safe, if necessary
- While hands-free devices are preferable to hand-held, research from the National Safety Council indicates they can still cause distractions. Try to avoid using them when possible.
Remember, nothing is so important it can’t wait until you safely arrive at your destination or a safe place such as a rest stop or wide shoulder.