Steps to take to reduce driver distraction

On behalf of Dan Doyle Law Group posted in Motor Vehicle Accident on Thursday, December 22, 2016.
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As national safety campaigns against drunk driving and other traffic risks have started to see real success over the past few years, another risk has come to the public’s attention: distracted driving. While distractions have always been a problem, the advent of touchscreen devices and other technological gadgets have increased the number of distracted driving incidents by encouraging multitasking and other potentially dangerous behaviors.

If you are trying to make sure you are safe on the road, the first step is to understand how driving distractions occur and how to prevent them.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving occurs when a driver is operating a vehicle and has to divert attention to another task, whether it is visual, manual, or cognitive. This means that distractions can involve looking away, reaching away, or getting lost in thought.

Some activities multiple sources of distraction. For example, watching your back-up camera or playing a video for your kids in the back can cause both cognitive and visual distractions. Operating touchscreen devices while driving tends to cause all three types, making it especially dangerous.

Steps to reduce driver distraction

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted research into not only the causes of distracted driving but also effective measures to prevent it. Its research indicates that the best way to reduce distraction is to plan ahead so that it will be easier to maintain focus on the road. Here are some practical ways you can do that:

  • Set up your GPS in advance so that you do not need to give it input during the drive.
  • Turn off the sound on mobile devices and put them out of reach in the glove compartment or a purse/bag.
  • Set up any music or other entertainment for passengers before putting the car into gear.
  • Ensure that you have adequate eye protection like sunglasses if the occasion warrants it.
  • Limit conversations with passengers to avoid getting drawn into complex decision-making in the vehicle.
  • Set any environmental controls like heating or cooling in advance.

If you do need to make changes to any of these elements during the drive, the safest way to do so is to either ask a passenger to manipulate the controls or to stop.

If you are in an accident

Sometimes, even the most conscientious driver winds up in an accident. This is partly because there’s no way to guarantee that every other driver is being as conscientious as you are. If you are injured in an accident, talk to an attorney about whether you have a claim that could help pay for any medical and other expenses you’ve incurred.

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