Simply appreciating your surroundings while driving can cause you to lose focus and compromise your attention on the roads. The phone has been a major culprit in this aspect, but there are other seemingly innocent acts that could cause an incident or, worse, an accident.
We cannot predict what happens each time we get behind the wheel. We place our trust on ourselves and the competence of drivers around us to make sure each new journey proceeds safely without incident.
Alert and responsible drivers mitigate the chance of an accident occurring due to the reckless actions or plain inattentiveness of others. It takes just a second or two of distraction to upend someone’s life. While texting and socialising on your mobile phone behind the wheel is universally agreed to be a major distraction, there are some quite unexpected actions and activities that can be considered equally distracting.
TAKING IN THE VIEWAll of us appreciate a beautiful view, and taking a moment to enjoy it may seem innocent. However, things are always in constant motion on the roads, so a mere glance that lingers for longer than necessary may result in a road accident.
A quiet stretch of road may seem like an ideal place to take in a grand vista. However, while there may not be any cars around, running into road debris or bad conditions like a pothole can ruin your day.
Getting a little too interested in a road accident? is another viewing distraction that can come to no good. Craning our necks to note the licence number of the unfortunate vehicle shouldn’t be our main concern. Instead, the driver’s eyes should be on the road and being aware of the surroundings, especially since others may be equally distracted. Look out for possible debris from the accident before driving away safely.
GETTING INTO THE MUSICDriving with music playing on the car’s sound system helps shut out the noise of our daily grind and keep us sane. Different people react differently to music: some just let it drone on for some background sound, while others really get into the music, sometimes a little too enthusiastically.
Research has suggested that up-tempo beats can cause a driver to increase acceleration and take more risks on the roads. Not that it makes you a speed demon, but it distracts you to the point that it clouds your emotional and cognitive response to what’s happening on the roads. If you have the urge to do some air-guitar or air-drumming while driving, be aware that you are definitely distracted. Time to switch to some elevator music or the news on the radio, perhaps?
NOISY PASSENGERSEveryone blames the driver if an accident occurs, but — according to a study in the US back in 2010 — more than half of distracted-driving crashes are actually caused by interactions with passengers.
If you are engaged in a discussion with your passenger, it can take your attention off the road. An intense conversation requires concentration that sometimes supersedes your focus on the roads and surroundings. Noisy teens, crying babies, and arguments in the car are scenarios that add chaos. To maintain order, maybe have someone you trust act as a peacemaker. For new drivers, who require extra focus, it is even more vital that they concentrate solely on the roads and not be distracted by their friends or an over-protective parent.
As a driver, certain things will be beyond your control, but there are actions and activities you can monitor and act upon to help reduce your chances of being distracted. Some may be simple and unassuming, but everything plays a part in safely focused on your driving.