Americans are legally allowed to drive a motor vehicle at the tender age of 16 because its a fairly simple task. But it seems many motorists completely forget about those safety questions on driving tests as soon as the engine is started. Here are three of the most common driving distractions easily remedied with a little effort:
A first-of-its-kind study by researchers at Monash University in Australia found that kids are 12 times more distracting to drivers than cell phones. The study also found that parents’ eyes are fixed on their kids rather than the road one-fifth of the time during 16 minute trips. A fender-bender with another car usually leads to exchanging insurance information and a little anxiety. But substitute that car with a motorcycle and the results can be life-altering.
Make sure small children are properly restrained so the natural parent in you isn’t perpetually worried about their safety. A survey by Mother and Baby magazine found about one-third of parents bought second-hand car seats for their babies for the sole purpose of saving money. Not only does this put your child in danger, but forces you to unnecessarily take your eyes off the road to check on them every few minutes. Your child’s life and your safety are worth the few extra bucks for a new, high-quality seat.
Keep your kids occupied when driving so they aren’t throwing tantrums, crying, or doing something else that requires your attention. Portable DVD players, MP3 players, and hand-held games are an easy remedy. You can go the educational route by playing the road sign game. Young kids can verbally identify a sign with the letter “A” (such as “Los Angeles 150), then find another sign with “B,” etc. You can also give them road maps of the area to mark up and color. For long road trips, they can highlight towns you’ve passed through and the roads taken to get there.
Texting And Talking
The National Safety Council estimates 28 percent of all traffic accidents involve someone texting or talking on their phones. Several states have enacted laws banning cell phone usage while driving. But states also post speed limit sign everywhere, which hasn’t slowed the $6.2 billion per year speeding ticket industry.
The general assumption is that hands-free talk, text, and email devices are a safe alternative to texting and talking while driving. Researchers at the University of Utah, however, found in a 2013 study that these devices overload the human brain, increasing the risk of accidents. Hands-free technologies built into newer cars were found to similarly distract drivers.
In short, there is really only one solution to this problem: wait until you’re stationary before texting or talking.
GPS was meant to make our daily commutes and cross-country road trip easier and more efficient. But the tiny screen and robot-voice telling you what to do can be just as big a distraction as kids screaming in your ear.
Younger people may have a hard time wrapping their heads around this concept. But 10 years ago, GPS devices were $600 novelties. Before that time, most drivers used the maps in their phone books to predetermine routes on unfamiliar roads. Interactive maps accessible online were also popular at this time.
This may sound like common sense, but have a general idea where you’re going before getting behind the wheel. Summarize your route on a small piece of paper with simple instructions like “R on Market, L on 6th, left side after McDonald’s.” If you must use GPS, turn off the voice prompts.