Driver distraction happens to the best of us and while unintentional, can lead to severe accidents, causing injury or even death. Sounds scary huh. So, what is driver distraction and how can we limit distractions while we are driving?
Physical distraction involves just that, physical movements that take control away from your vehicle’s functions such as the steering wheel, foot brake or gear stick. By far the most common physical distraction for drivers is the mobile phone! Our government has recently cracked down on mobile phone usage while driving as mobile phone use can be just as dangerous as drink driving! Other common physical distractions include changing the radio station, reaching into handbags, and eating food.
The solution the physical distraction is simple. Turn off or switch your mobile device to silent and keep it out of reach while you are behind the wheel. Avoid eating, applying makeup or brushing hair, reaching into your bag to find something, and playing with audio controls whilst driving. If you need to do any of these things its best to pull over in a safe area, put your car into park with the handbrake on and perform whatever task you need to.
This type of distraction is a little harder to control as it involves a more involuntary response being your eyesight. There are too many visual distractions to name them all but for example, you might see an attractive person walking on the street, or you could be drinking a coffee and you spill some causing your eyes to move off the road and onto your coffee-soaked shirt. You might see a political party waving at you on a busy intersection, or you might see an animal run out in front of your car.
Visual distraction is sometimes impossible to avoid but there are steps you can take to limit distractions such as not drinking that hot coffee in the car, therefore, preventing spillage. Try where you can to be present and aware of visual distractions and focus your sight on the road, it’s easy to block out visual distractions where you become more mindful of them.
Have you ever found yourself driving home from work, zoning out to all of a sudden find yourself in your driveway and you don’t recall how you got there so soon? This usually happens when you are mentally distracted. You could be deep in thought about almost anything apart from driving and this can be a dangerous distraction.
The solution, mindfulness! As with visual distractions, the more self-aware you are of your distractions, the more you can apply mindfulness while on the road. Actively tell yourself to focus on the road and in time this will become habitual.
In summary, distractions are all around us. It’s easy to get into the car and become distracted but if you are mindful and aware of your distractions you can make a difference in limiting your risk to yourself and other motorists on the road.
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