Teenage drivers have to endure the brunt of the blame when distracted driving gets debated. Also, they are often the most thoroughly educated, scolded when they disobey their parent orders and praised when they listen and lay down their phones. But all age groups drive distracted and could benefit from some safe driving education.
While driving, cell phone use is by far the number one most often cited cause of distracted driving crashes, but far from the only distraction. Talking to our passengers, scolding your misbehaving children in the back seat, daydreaming, smoking cigarettes, eating a burger or applying makeup could never be regulated, nor should it be, takes out attention off the task at hand; driving.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite that roughly nine people per day or 3,500 per year lose their lives due to a distracted driving crash.
You can limit the distractions and increase your passengers’ safety by implementing the following behaviors before and during your time behind the wheel.
- Stow your phone somewhere you can’t easily reach: If you need to use it for navigation and are expecting a call, you can purchase a dash attachment for your phone to operate hands-free or one-touch.
- Multi-task at home: Many drivers have habits of eating or applying makeup behind the wheel. While it isn’t always the case, poor time management is often the reason why this occurs. You may have to get up a little earlier, but your safety and reaction time on the road may depend on it.
- Limit your communication: When you know your family member or friend is on the road, try to avoid texting them, causing a distraction.
- Ensure pets and children are secure: Allowing pets and young children to roam about the vehicle is no doubt a distractor.
- Be a model driver: Children look up to their parents and often inherit their traits. If you display and preach safe driving habits year over year, there is a greater likelihood your children will follow suit.
- Map it: If you need help mapping your route, do so before you hit the road.
- Don’t be silent: If you are in a vehicle where the driver is texting and driving or acting in another unsafe way, speak up, and let them know their actions make you uncomfortable. Moving your attention away from the road at the wrong time can lead to disaster.
- Set rules for your teenage drivers: Limit passengers and download safe-driving apps the monitor their cell phone use until you feel comfortable with your children’s driving behavior.
Lastly, avoid reaching for that fallen item. Sometimes an item literally falls through the cracks in your seat or near your feet, and unless it is distracting your ability to drive, let it be until you come to a complete stop. These above suggestions are easier to follow when you realize that in 2017, Texas passed a law to make electronic messaging (reading or writing texts or emails) illegal while driving.