Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do, but it’s not the only distraction hurting and killing people on our roadways. Many of us think we’re champions at multi-tasking and that driving is just a minor inconvenience while you’re doing other things. It’s not. Driving requires your full attention.
But other than playing around with a phone, what other things are distracting people behind the wheel? Here is what law enforcement says.
Eating and drinking
Reserve eating for times when you’re not motoring down the freeway at 100 km/h. Some easy to reach and eat snacks can be acceptable. A messy cheeseburger or a piping hot bowl of soup - not so much.
While you know you should never drink alcohol and drive, even reaching for or drinking a non-alcoholic beverage can be a risk. Removing a lid or cap or handling a hot coffee can distract you from what’s happening on the road. Pull over or wait until you are stopped.
Grooming on the go
Whether it’s shaving or putting on lipstick or tying a tie, leave that for home or at least for when you’re fully stopped. When you’re driving, the rearview mirror is not for primping. The time you think you are saving could end up being lost to you forever.
Music and stereos
“Life is a Highway” a great tune for driving, but let’s keep the volume down, please. Your music or favorite talk radio show should be at a reasonable level so you can still hear what’s happening outside and around your car. Whether it’s a siren, screeching brakes or a horn from another car, or a warning sound from your car’s sensors, you need to hear as well as see when driving. And don’t be fiddling with center console stereo controls while you’re driving either – that takes your eyes off the road.
All things electronic
Yes, we’ve mentioned cellphone usage but they’re not the only devices people reach for when driving. Game consoles, GPS devices, tablets – all of these are distractions. In 2010, the rules in BC on both hands-free and handheld technologies were clarified – some permitted, some banned. The list is available here. And of course, in 2016, the fines for distracted driving in BC went up.
Your brain is a powerful computing system. But it can work against you. Maybe there’s something worrying you, or you’re tired, or you’re just bored from driving on long stretches of boring highway. But it is difficult for your brain to concentrate on two things at once. That is why distracted driving is so dangerous.
To prevent distraction, avoid driving when you’re tired or emotionally stressed or drained. Take frequent stops to rest, replenish, and rejuvenate. And remind yourself that you’re driving – it’s no time to get lost in your own head. No matter what the distraction is, leave it behind when driving.