“At one point, I really just…let my cat drive,” one woman responded during a driver distraction study when answering questions.
While most drivers are thankfully more attentive, responsible, and observant than the one who let her cat operate her vehicle, they could truthfully utilize some honest advice about safe driving practices on the highway.
Simple mistakes are easy enough to recognize; the media has frequently notified us about the dangers of driving while on a cell phone or initiating in other distracted behaviors such as eating. However, the average driver is often driving under stressful conditions, work and family related pressure, and time constraints, never fully having time to think of the small inconveniences such as cell phone calls or meals which must occur on the run.
Instead of feeling guilty and chastised for your driving behaviors, recognize your distracted behavior try using these simple ways to correct them. Many solutions to common distractions can be performed in less than a minute in your car before you leave.
Eating on the go
Problem: With busy and involved lifestyles, fast food has become an irreplaceable convenience. Most people rely on drive through stores for meals, coffee, donuts, pharmacy, and even convenience store items. Eating in the car can prove distracting because it takes the driver’s attention from the road.
Solutions: Keep a bag for trash handy in your car, even if it’s just a plastic grocery bag. This will eliminate your worry for food items spilling in your car after you are done with them, and also reuses the bag in an environmentally sound manner. To maximize your fast food experience, have your wallet ready or your money prepared ahead of time before you leave for your destination. This will eliminate your wait time and further stress. Be sure to ask for napkins and always check your order before leaving the fast food establishment to avoid worry over spills or the need to return.
Cell phone usage
Problem: Cell phone usage leads to distracted driving. The driver has only one hand on the wheel and is distracted by conversation. It isn’t realistic to expect all drivers to eliminate cell phone usage.
Solution: Get a cell phone with a speaker phone feature. Although this drains the battery at a faster rate, drivers will not have to worry about having their hands occupied or fiddling with a wireless Bluetooth device. With the press of two buttons (one to answer the call and another to activate speakerphone), drivers can have a less distracted driving experience by utilizing this feature.
Problem: Drivers, especially in urban areas, get stressed and angry at other drivers and in general. They take these aggressions out on anyone who gets in their way.
Solution: Always leave early. Moving departure time as little as five minutes early can save many commuters undue stress. Drivers less focused on being late themselves are more likely to notice potentially aggressive drivers on the road. As an added bonus, this can cut down on speeding and other driving behaviors that lead to tickets and further tardiness.
The above solutions do not take very much effort on the driver’s part. The slightest alteration in behavior, such as asking for napkins at the drive through or leaving a few minutes early, can spare drivers the difficulty of driver mistakes which can lead to accidents and even fatalities.