Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road and can greatly increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash. Employees should learn about the types of distracted driving and what they can do to be proactive while on the road.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: Taking your eyes off the road.
- Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving.
By practicing safe driving techniques, you can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an auto accident.
Don’t multitask at the wheel
While there is little you can do to control the actions of other drivers, there is plenty you can do to reduce your own distractions. Do not engage in any of the following while driving:
- Talking with other passengers to the extent that you aren’t watching the road and spotting potential hazards
- Adjusting the radio or other audio devices
- Allowing your dog to sit on your lap
- Touching up makeup or hair
Stay off the Phone
Cell phones are the most common driver distraction, and cell phone use results in many accidents every year. Driving while talking on the phone is dangerous because you cannot adequately divide your attention between the road and your conversation. 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. Texting while driving is comparable to drunk driving in terms of decreased reaction time and impairment. You should always refrain from texting, checking email, programming a mobile GPS device or using your phone in any way while driving. If necessary, silence or turn off your phone to avoid being distracted.
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 it 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. If you are using a GPS device, put in directions before setting out and don’t try to do it while you are driving.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Alcohol is the single, greatest contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle accidents. Never drive while intoxicated and consider not drinking at all if you are driving yourself or are a designated driver for a group. If you are going to an event that serves alcohol, plan how you will get home beforehand and act accordingly. If necessary, program the number for a taxicab service into your phone or call for an on-demand, alternative transportation service such as Uber or Lyft. 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 to minimize the risk of an auto accident. It’s important to be aware of other drivers around you and adjust your driving accordingly.
Do you have questions about safety on the job or safety related topics? Contact the experts at BCN Services for help with your workplace safety policies.
Patrick Boeheim, Safety & Risk Manager