Distracted driving is a consistent and prevalent threat to safety on U.S. roadways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine people are killed, and more than 1,000 are injured every day in distracted driving-related accidents. Distractions can come in many forms—from technology to rubbernecking. So, it’s important that drivers make themselves aware of the risks and take steps to minimize the temptations that can take their attention away from the road.
Use These Tricks to Reduce Possible Distractions Behind the Wheel
Distracted driving occurs whenever a driver engages in an activity other than driving while behind the wheel. The most common distractions include talking or texting, eating, changing radio stations, and adjusting a navigation system. It can be easy to get distracted, especially on a long drive or a routine drive you’ve traveled a thousand times. However, it’s important to stay vigilant and recognize the behaviors that can put drivers and passengers at risk. To help stay focused on the task of driving:
- Put an automatic driving response on your phone. Many phones can be programmed to send a return message automatically if you receive a text while driving. This message can tell the person on the other end that you are driving and will respond as soon as you can.
- Put your phone in the back seat. If your phone cannot be put into a Do Not Disturb mode, or if that doesn’t help diminish the temptation, simply put your phone away. If it’s out of sight and you can’t reach it, you will be less tempted to use it while driving.
- Make use of hands-free technology. Many cars today are equipped with technology that makes it possible to answer calls and texts without having to use the phone receiver. Simply using buttons on the steering can enable drivers to avoid searching for the phone, holding the device, and staring at the screen.
- Refrain from eating and drinking. Take a few moments to finish snacks or meals before getting into the car. If it’s necessary to eat in the car, try to bring along food that is easy to eat on the road.
- Adjust radio and GPS systems before departing. Make sure the map is ready and your favorite radio station is queued up before leaving for your destination so that you aren’t trying to navigate sometimes confusing menus while also paying attention to the road.
- Pull over if it’s necessary to attend to children or technology. At times, drivers must address the changing needs of passengers or adjust devices. Leave the road and park the vehicle. It will be faster and easier to manage these issues when you can give them your full attention.
- Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle. This one is fairly simple: fewer passengers equal fewer distractions. Especially for those drivers who know they are likely to be sidetracked by conversation or behavior, simply limit how many people are in the car.
Drivers can find their attention wandering for a variety of reasons. Acknowledging those distractions and making an effort to reduce their effect can help you avoid serious accidents.
Spot Distracted Drivers Before an Accident Happens
Even the most careful, well-intentioned driver can find themselves in a crash. It’s not possible to control the behaviors of others, and not every driver will make the same commitment to safety behind the wheel. In addition to avoiding personal distractions, accidents can be avoided by paying attention and taking steps to avoid those who might be distracted themselves. Some warning signs of a distracted driver include:
- Age. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Safety found that 60% of moderate to severe teen crashes involved distracted driving. Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group in the U.S., so take care when sharing the road with these inexperienced drivers.
- Devices. Spotting another driver talking on the phone or looking down at a device is a sign that their attention may not be fully focused on driving.
- Delayed reaction to a changing light. When the driver near you doesn’t move after the traffic light has changed from red to green, it can be a sign that they have taken that time to engage in distracting behavior. If they aren’t watching the light, they aren’t focused on driving.
- Veering out of the marked lane. A drifting driver is likely not paying full attention to the road. Even if distraction is not the cause, this is a common sign of a driving risk.
These and other warning signs often trigger the worry that another driver is not behaving responsibly. Drivers should take care to leave ample space and be ready to drive defensively.
If You’ve Suffered Injuries in a Distracted Driving Accident
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, and you suspect the at-fault driver was distracted, you may be eligible to file a legal claim. These claims can provide medical care and compensation to help victims recover as fully as possible. In Alaska, attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many car accident victims understand their rights and obtain all the compensation they deserved. Call Ben in his Anchorage office today or request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, to learn more about your options.