April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we hope to carry this awareness through to the end of the year and beyond. Distracted driving results from anything that takes your mind off of safely operating your vehicle, such as:
• Using electronics • Talking or texting on the phone
• Eating or drinking. • Programming a GPS or map app
• Applying makeup or shaving. • Reading a newspaper or book
• Watching a video
Visual, manual (removing your hand from the wheel), or cognitive (taking your mind off of driving) distractions can create hazards for you, your passengers, and other drivers or pedestrians. Of these, cognitive distractions may be the greatest hazard.
Aren’t hands-free devices safer?
• Manually, hands-free devices are safer, keeping your hands on the wheel.
• Hands-free devices cause a very real hazard due to creating visual, manual, and cognitive distractions.
Research shows your brain‘s focus on driving decreases by more than one-third while you’re listening to a phone call. This decrease means you’re less aware of your environment and may not “see” a change in traffic or a pedestrian crossing in front of you. “Inattention blindness” can even result from something like using voice commands to order takeout. Your mind is on ordering your food, not on driving.
Multitasking is a myth!
• The human brain can only handle one task at a time.
• If you’re driving and talking on the phone (or some other activity), your brain must toggle between those two tasks; it can’t do them both at the same time—no matter how good you claim to be at “multitasking.”
Even a brief distraction from the road can slow your reaction time and result in an accident. Remember, at only 25 mph, your car can travel over 100 yards in 10 seconds. Now consider the speeds you travel on the interstate and rethink what you do when behind the wheel!
Commit to making driving your only priority.
You wouldn’t drive blindfolded, so why drive distracted? When distracted, your brain can’t “see” what’s happening around you, even if your eyes are on the road. • If you must talk on your mobile device, find a safe place to pull over. • Order your pizza, set your GPS/map app, program your playlist before you get on the road.
Remember, there’s always time for safety!
Source: National Safety Council