Driving Distracted

What is a “distraction” to a driver? It’s anything that takes hands, eyes or attention away from driving. Driving is a complex activity, involving far more than simply steering, accelerating and braking. Drivers must also constantly gather information from mirrors, dashboard gauges, surrounding traffic, and the landscape. Professional drivers additionally must remain aware of their passengers, cargo, and their manifest, and often must remain in constant communication with a dispatch office via radio. Recognizing how many tasks are actually involved in driving, as well as the number of details drivers should constantly monitor, it becomes clear that there really is little attention ever safely left over for drivers to use cell phones, eat, groom, or adjust a vehicle’s entertainment system. In fact, 2004 National Safety Council data indicates that these extra activities, the “driver distractions”, are a contributing factor in over 4,500 crashes daily.
Here are the most common distracting activities:

TUNING THE RADIO – (65% of drivers do this)
When you take your eyes off the road for 2 seconds, going 60 MPH, you travel 176 feet blindly. If you listen while you drive, tune the radio before taking the road and don’t change channels while driving.

USING CELL PHONES – (over 70% of drivers do this)
Using a wireless phone while driving increases your chance of getting into an accident by 400%! A survey of 837 drivers with cell phones found that almost half swerved or drifted into another lane, 23% had tailgated, 21% cut someone off and 18% nearly hit another vehicle while using the phone.
“Hands-free” phone features can’t prevent you from becoming involved in a conversation and losing concentration. We strongly suggest that calls never be made or received while a vehicle is in motion.

EATING/DRINKING – (60% of drivers do this)
Eating or drinking while behind the wheel is the # 1 cause of accidents. If your schedule is too tight to allow for a meal break, talk to a supervisor. If you do stop to get a meal while on the road, eat the meal while parked. Keep your water container safely stowed or in a beverage caddy to prevent it spilling and distracting you, and don’t drink while in motion.

TALKING TO/DEALING WITH PASSENGERS – (75% of drivers do this)
Those of us who transport passengers, particularly fragile individuals or people with special needs, should always be sure our passengers are calm, secure and if necessary properly supervised before taking the road. Are all wheelchairs tiedowns and passenger seatbelts securely fastened? You may need another adult to supervise a vehicle full of children. Once you are driving, your attention should not have to be drawn to a crisis in the back of the vehicle.