7 Dangerous Driving Distractions!

NEWS | | July 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm

A few weeks ago Melanie, a member of the blogging community was hit by a car. We hear about vehicle accidents (more often than I would like) but a car hitting a person conjures up a personal and super scary image. I don’t know if it is partly because I personally know her or because I can only imagine the speed and impact of a machine hitting a human being. It has made me think hard. Sure I chastise those who drive recklessly but it also made me wonder, “Was I being unintentionally careless on the road?”.

I mean of course I drive carefully but most accidents, are just that, “accidents” – not planned “I looked away for a second” kind. So while the more serious offenses like drunk driving etc are important there are other distractions that could be just as fatal.

Entertainment.

Whether it is you belting out tunes to your heart’s content, paying too much attention to the DVD playing in the back or whether that sound from the DS games (or any handheld game) is distracting. Even just trying to change the radio station, flip a new CD to play etc is enough time for eyes of the road to hit anything. As much as you think you have control of the situation, the reality is as with all the moving parts, you don’t.

Kids

I never knew stressful driving until I had kids. Really. The Gods decided to punish me for craving all those Taco Bell burritos while pregnant and give me screamer babies. I drooled in jealousy at all the new moms and their wonderful “my baby loves to sleep in the carseat” babies. Mine yelled. Loudly. Persistently. I was miserable. I used to make several stops to try and soothe and even tried singing. Nothing worked. Needless to say I was a bundle of nerves and not the person who be controlling a vehicle. I realized though that I needed to focus. So I cranked up the music when I could not stop. The aim was not to drown out cries, which it did, but to give me time to focus so we could have a safe ride. I had to be as tough as nails but I knew it was the right thing to do. Fast forward a few years you think it would get easier, right?

Siblings love each other but they fight. A lot! Somehow enough that it rivals those screaming baby years. The bickering is tough but even when they are not, kids are really distracting. Talking to them, trying to pass stuff to them etc all can take your focus away from where it should be… the road. So especially since you have precious cargo on board (your kids) be aware of the distraction they unwittingly provide.

Phone

Phones, especially smart phones are the bane of our existence. I was a bit slow to get to them and by the time I discovered the brilliance of texting they banned it while driving in Massachusetts. Which was just as well considering how easily addictive it was. I love that in MA all teenage phone use while driving was also banned. But seriously having all that “smartness” at our fingertips makes you itchy to muti-task all the time. I feel like I have ADD and I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow that it is so tempting to check email, use Facebook or Twitter and I swear it takes all the restraint I have not to take a quick peek.

You know how you see someone driving in front of you and they look a little “lost” and unfocused? Then can you recall the feeling as you pass them at the next traffic light to see them busy on the phone? Feel extra irritated right? Yes, because you feel this person has shown neither you nor the road any respect and chose to focus their attention on a call. Hang up and drive!

Food

I always wondered how Americans ate and drove while I lived in South Africa. It was also because I drove a manual transmission car and had to constantly change gears so there would be no hands (or legs – busy on the clutch) to spare. Then I discovered the wonder of automatic transmission and except for wondering what I do with my leg and finally learning to drive on the other side, this driving thing was easy-peasy.  Then holey-moley drive-thru’s added to the whole cult of eating in your car. Now you’re taking a bite and ketchup drips on your lap and you look for that napkin, praying that they gave you one, and try to pray no stains form. That is a helluva lot of looking away from the road if you ask me. And let’s not even go to kids eating in the car.

Grooming

I have seen everything from makeup to shaving (I would not tell a lie) to putting a tie on all while driving. Everyone is crunched for time. Everyone! Wait and get to a proper bathroom (or even a parking lot) and keep yourself looking good (better with steady hands and the roads safer.

Clutter

Not only is it difficult to focus but stuff can slip under the gas pedal or brakes and be pretty dangerous. Clutter is one of my worst problems and it somehow makes me anxious which of course is not so great for my mental awareness.

Directions

Whether you are fumbling with your GPS, smartphone or those paper printouts make sure you do that while you car is not in motion. And, NO, stopping at a red signal does not constitute not driving. You need to be off the road to do that. Lack of confidence in the directions make for a careless driver. Look at new directions much earlier to familiarize yourself with the route.  If you miss the turn, just go to the next one. Sudden turns or lane-changing mess everyone up. Be late, but get there – in one piece.

I love that AllState spawned several road-inspired posts around the blogosphere but more than that I love that they created a roadside assistance program that was much needed. The fact that you pay when you use takes of this huge burden about commitment or paying for what you don’t need. Truth be told I have always had roadside assistance so I you never have to convince me of its importance. There is no doubt in my mind how essential having a roadside assistance program is. What I do gripe about though is the annual fee I normall pay, especially for features I don’t really use.

Why did I love sharing about the program with you is the fact that you pay for what you use and when you use it.All t takes is a quick signup and the send you a nifty welcome kit. Oh, and if you are thinking that no way are you changing insurances, the good news is you don’t have to. You can continue with you insurance and still take the roadside assistant program.

Happy driving!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Allstate. I am pretty keen to share their new program of roadside assistance without the monthly fees. You pay when you need it.

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