You are probably aware that talking on the phone and texting can cause distractions while you are driving which can lead to dangerous driving and potential accidents. This is why you are only allowed to use your phone on a hands free basis while your car is moving. There are, however, a number of other things that can lead to distracted and therefore dangerous driving. While none of these things are technically illegal, you should watch out for them to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe!
1. Your Passengers
Talking to your passengers or having kids acting up in the back of your car can be a huge source of distraction. Of course, you are going to want to talk or your journeys will be pretty boring, but don’t discuss anything too stressful or argue when you are driving if you can avoid it. Try and keep any children you have in your car occupied with games, books or toys, and explain to older kids that driving takes up a lot of your concentration and that by distracting you by things like kicking your seat they are actually putting their own safety at risk!
It has been shown in studies that driving without enough sleep, or driving for long periods without resting, can be as dangerous as driving over the alcohol limit – in some cases even worse. If you are tired, your reactions will be slower, your mind will be less focussed, and you even risk falling asleep at the wheel, even if only for a few seconds of ‘microsleep’. As you can imagine, this is incredibly risky, so if you are feeling very tired, do not even think about driving your car. On long journeys, pull over regularly and take breaks to rest, get some fresh air, and revive yourself. Coffee and energy drinks can help, but don’t rely on them – rest is the most important thing.
3. Needing the Bathroom!
Another thing that has been proven to cause distracted and dangerous driving is when the driver really needs the toilet! There is not much you can do about this if it happens, as you will need to find a safe place to go, but always use the bathroom at opportunities like before you leave home or on any stops at service stations (even if you don’t think you need to) if you have a long way between stops, and avoid drinking large amounts of soft drinks and water while you are driving on a long trip.
Sometimes you may think you can save a bit of time on a trip by eating while you drive, but this can actually lead to bad driving, because you will be distracted by your food, and any spills. You will also be driving one handed for a lot of the time while you are eating, which is never ideal. Avoid eating while driving where you can, and if you need to do it, stick to things that are easy to eat like crisps and chocolate.
Avoiding distracted driving is crucial to being a good driver, so look out for these things and stay safe on the roads.