6 Common Driving Habits You Might Not Realize Are Distracting You
We all have bad habits. Biting our nails, drinking too much coffee, constant tardiness. While they may be frustrating and difficult to break, these habits aren’t life threatening. However, some habits can be – especially behind the wheel. There are plenty of distractions we hear about all the time: texting and driving, using your cell phone, driving when you’re overtired, etc. But what about the day-to-day occurrences that we don’t even realize are affecting our safety? Here are six daily distractions to keep in mind when you put that car in drive.
Just because they are built into your car doesn’t make them safe. Many newer model vehicles come with built-in infotainment systems, allowing you to choose your music, send messages, and stay connected right from the convenience of the vehicle. While some of them are hands-free (not all of them), they are still huge distractions. Instead of looking at the road, you’re looking at and reading the information on the screen: song choices, the names of incoming callers, etc. It’s no different than texting and driving, except the screen is a little bit bigger. Avoid paying too much attention to these screens and, if it has a voice recognition software, opt for the hands-free method.
Phone calls can be distracting, regardless of whether or not they are hands-free. Not only do you have to worry about dialing the right number and any technical difficulties that may occur, but the conversation itself can pull your focus away from the road. the National Safety Council released an emotional video earlier this year titled, “Calls Kill.” The video shows the real-life dangers that can occur when drivers are distracted by phone calls, even hands free ones. “Hands free is not risk free.”
Whether your best friend is sitting in the passenger’s seat telling you about her day or your three kids are arguing in the backseat, having other passengers in the vehicle is a distraction in and of itself. Avoid turning around in the vehicle or spending too much time glancing in the rear view mirror. If children are misbehaving, pull over before turning around to handle the situation. It will help keep you, and your loved ones, out of harm’s way.
While all of us love to bring our furry friends along for the ride, sometimes they can be a distraction of their own. When your dog is in the car, you’re likely to be checking on him repeatedly, in your mirrors and by physically turning your head. If you need to take your dog somewhere, make sure he is properly secured so you don’t have to stress and create further distractions for yourself.
Drive-Thrus are everywhere. They’re convenient, the food is hot and fresh (and delicious), and you don’t have to worry about cooking. But think again before you start eating that fast food behind the wheel. Focusing on your food (and any messes that you might make) is a dangerous decision. Pull over or set the bag down on the passenger’s seat and wait until you arrive at your destination.
A GPS can be extremely helpful, navigating you to and from your desired locations. However, when you take a wrong turn or can’t figure out why your GPS isn’t talking to you, it’s a good idea to pull over before fumbling with the settings. Similar to the infotainment systems, a GPS is a device just like a cell phone. If you’re messing with buttons and settings, your chances of ending up in an accident increase substantially.