Distracted driving: Safety tips to take on the road
It’s no secret that using a cell phone while driving is always a bad idea. In fact, texting at the wheel is the second highest cause of mortality on the road. Knowing this, why are we still tempted to pick up the phone anyway? It’s crucial that we break the bad habit of texting and driving, as well as other avoidable, dangerous distractions.
Did you know that texting while you drive is like taking your eyes off the road for four to six seconds? At 90 km per hour it’s like travelling the length of a football field with your eyes closed! But texting isn’t the only cause. Other dangerous distractions include choosing your playlist, eating snacks, drinking beverages, and even applying makeup while driving, all of which cause serious accidents on a far too regular basis. Don’t forget that as soon as you are at the wheel, you’re driving. Even when stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, you’re still driving!
Tips to curb distraction
We’re clearly addicted to our phones, so how can we fight the temptation and make our roads safer? Here are a few tips to try right away:
- Use an app that allows you to block notifications and send automatic replies to people trying to reach you. If you’re using an iPhone with iOS 11 or above, your iPhone can detect when you may be driving and block notifications. When the “Do Not Disturb while driving” function is activated, your phone remains silent and the screen goes dark. Anyone who messages will get an automatic reply telling them you’re driving, unless it’s an emergency alert.
- You can also manually turn off notifications (vibrations, ringtones) before you drive to make it easier to ignore your phone. Or, put your phone in airplane mode so that you can’t receive text messages.
- Use a GPS other than your phone’s GPS app so you won’t see incoming notifications (or turn them off in your phone settings!).
- Give your phone to your co-pilot and ask them to handle your calls and text messages, or simply keep the phone out of your reach!
- What about going hands-free, you may ask. While not illegal, it’s not recommended either. Talking on the phone or making a voice command can be distracting too. If you do go hands-free, make sure your phone is firmly mounted on a support device, that it can’t interfere with driving manoeuvres, or prevent any equipment from working properly (e.g. an air bag), and that it doesn’t pose a risk of injury during an accident.
At belairdirect we reward safe drivers by helping them save on their car insurance. If you use automerit® – a program that rewards safe driving – not using your phone while driving counts towards your belairdirect automerit® discount!
So whatever your tactic might be, avoiding distractions at the wheel is mandatory and can literally save lives. Drive safe!