Safety Matters Certified Training 5669 Calle Real , Ste F, Goleta, CA 93117 | Call: (805) 705-9222

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

By Justin Haagen on Apr 12, 2023

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

distracted driver

When you hear the words “unsafe driving,” you likely think of speeding or drunk driving. But distracted driving results in more than 3,000 deaths each year, all of which could have easily been avoided with simple care and planning.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road, including talking or texting on the phone, eating, drinking, chatting with people in the car, and adjusting the radio or navigation system.

There are three main types of driver distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off driving

While we may not all admit it, most of us have done these secondary tasks while driving. And in almost every situation, that secondary task can wait.

Put Down the Phone

It may come almost second nature to so many of us in this day and age, but texting is considered the most dangerous type of distracted driving because it combines visual, manual and cognitive distractions.

When you’re texting, you are taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off driving. That’s when accidents happen. In fact, one study found that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash.

Even if you aren’t typing a response to your latest text, reading one is just as dangerous. It takes less than 5 seconds to read a text message. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Besides being risky, texting while driving is against the law in 48 states. And when an accident occurs while a driver is texting, they are almost always deemed at fault.

Talking on the phone while driving is extremely dangerous as well. Even hands-free cell phone use involves visual and cognitive tasks at least half of the time, which of course increases the chances of an accident.

Other Steps to Avoid Distraction

Staying off the phone is the first step in reducing distracted driving, but there are many other factors that can distract drivers, all of which have easy solutions.

Prepare your GPS. Programming navigation takes, on average, 40 seconds to complete. It then takes another 13 seconds for the brain to refocus. That's almost one full minute of not focusing on driving! Input your route before you start driving and study the directions, so you are familiar with where you’re heading. Whenever possible, have a passenger provide directions for you.

Fuel (yourself) up. If your stomach is growling right before you’re about to hit the road, make sure to energize your body with a meal or filling snack so you aren’t tempted to eat while driving. Munching on food requires attention that should be reserved for the road. For lengthy road trips, stop and pull over to eat. This is also a good opportunity to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

Check your phone settings. Most smartphones have a “driving mode” option within the settings that can be activated when your phone or Bluetooth connection senses your speed and movement. There are also numerous downloadable apps that can block incoming texts or calls, except certain specified numbers, and don’t allow you to use many in-phone apps.

Safe Travels

Driving distracted is a serious issue. Too many lives are lost each year — about nine every day — because of a quick text message or phone call. But the good news is that many accidents can be prevented simply by keeping your eyes, hands and mind focused on driving. Always give the road your complete attention. We want to see you make it safely to your destination. Please remember these tips, and safe travels.