Are you too distracted to realise you are distracted?
26 September 2013:
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of road accidents
Hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the road. If your attention is on anything else, you could end up becoming part of the shocking road crash statistics this year.
Every year, your risk of being involved in a crash goes up, so donít chance it. Any action that takes your attention away from driving is considered distracted driving. Are you guilty of one or more of the following?
Eating and drinking means taking your hands off the wheel:
During busy days, itís easy to eat your breakfast or lunch while driving from one meeting to another. It might save you ten minutes, but it will take your focus off the road, thereby endangering yourself and those around you. Plan ahead. Grab a bite and a cold drink before you start driving or once you have reached your destination.
Passengers can be distracting:
Driving with passengers in the car can be extremely distracting, particularly if they are small children. There is no harm in joining in the conversation, but make it clear to passengers that your number one priority is to get them safely to their destination - so your participation may be limited. In the case of children, make sure they have things to keep them entertained, such as games and toys, which will help keep your focus on the road.
Driver fatigue is a killer:
When you are tired, your attention is less than 100% on the road in front of you. Tell-tale signs are micro-sleeps or the inability to remember the last couple of minutes while driving. Stop and rest. When driving long distances, be sure to stop for a break at least every 200 km or two hours.
Smoking on the road is dangerous:
Digging for the lighter or matches, taking the cigarette out of the box and finally lighting it - these simple actions probably take five to ten seconds, but it also means five to ten seconds that your attention is not on the road. Smoking also takes one of your hands off the steering wheel, giving you less control of the car and limits your responsiveness to potential obstacles around you.
Maps/directions/GPS can distract more than help you:
No one likes getting lost, so there are times when you need a map book or a GPS to guide you. Make sure that you pre-set your GPS before you begin driving and not while you are already en-route. When using a map book, pull over - when it is safe to do so - to check your next change in direction. Reading a map book while in transit is extremely dangerous.
Grooming is a no-no:
This one is especially for the ladies. One of the most common forms of distracted driving is grooming, including doing hair or make-up while behind the wheel. Doing your make-up in the car could mean an extra ten minutes in bed in the morning, but is it worth the risk? Complete your personal grooming before you leave home or wait until you get to the office.
It is not only the urge to use your cell phone while driving that is to blame for distracted driving. The solutions to these other causes can seem like a bother, but the reality is that it could mean the difference between life and death, for yourself and others.
You may feel safe in your car and confident in your driving ability, but the reality is that 40 people die in road crashes on our roads every day. Keep safe by keeping your full attention on the road.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1000