When driving, it is always advisable to be attentive. Being attentive means attending to the exterior surroundings such as road conditions and traffic flow, the interior situation such as controls, instruments, passengers and to her own mind set.
The basics of driving, steering and pushing pedals can soon become less interesting. Then, the mind can wander. Why not? It is enticed by a myriad of things both inside the car and out that are more interesting than simply driving. Actual driving seems to demand attention only when something dreadful is pending or has already happened: a car suddenly changes lanes, an animal shoots across the road, a lorry loses its load, a car suddenly appears out of nowhere from across the road from a blind junction, a child darts from between parked cars just to name a few.
Such things all seem to happen with no warning, but truth be told even “suddenly” is part of an evolution. The intelligent driver knows where trouble is likely to lurk and what situations cause the problems in the first place. The alert driver can spot problems early before they actually materialize. Here are four things that you must recognize that might help you as a driver to avoid the pitfalls of distraction.
- Recognize that a distraction is just an attraction elsewhere. When you see the lights and congestion of an accident in the opposite lane the urge to stare will increase drastically. Attend instead to maintaining your distance from the cars near you being aware that their drivers could be blindly distracted as well.
- Recognize your own signs of distraction. As you drive you should be self-watchful. Learn to spot the indicators that you are bored or inattentive. Have standard checks. What do you notice in your mirrors? What is on the left of you? The right? If the scene has changed significantly from the last time, you checked you have been distracted.
- Recognize the risks of distractions. The first step is to realize that any distraction carries risk with it. You may feel that the world may stop because you dropped a CD or flash disc with your favourite music on the floor, but what is true is that the world you are driving in keeps on motoring. Once you realize how deadly distractions can be to you as a driver, you will find new ways to keep your attention focused.
SOME COMMON DISTRACTIONS
Use a hands-free device for the phone and keep your hands on the wheel. It is important to understand that it is the conversation itself, not the phone, which is the most serious distraction. Keep the conversation light, brief, and short. Realize that phone use of any kind, slows your reaction time thus lengthening braking time. It is also advisable to increase the space between you and the car ahead. This will better your chances when braking to avoid hitting the vehicle in front. Never view or sent SMS while driving.
Fasten your children in the appropriate car seats. If you are tempted to belt them in other ways, be sure you stop first. Do not get involved in inter-child arguments or who-started-it polemics. Forget the “Don’t make me stop this car!” threats. Just act on the threat. Stop the car. Get inter-child arguments settled before resuming the drive. You cannot be an upset mother or father and an alert driver at the same time. Those are too many roles for one person to handle. Forbid games that involve tossing a ball or anything else that might get under foot and interfere with the controls. Sure, play the alphabet game but please do not keep score. In the end, consider fitting a pair of DVD headrests for the kids to watch their favourite shows or movies as you drive. Your kids will love long journeys and quarrel less often.
Radio and CD Players
Learn your system well enough to use by touch and sound alone. When buying a car, opt for fingertip controls on the steering wheel and head-up displays for tuning, if available. CD\flash disc players require less fiddling. Decide your listening mood before you start your journey. Take advantage of the push button or scan devices on your sound system. If you are driving alone, do your adjustments while stopped. If you have passengers, pre-instruct them in the use of the controls and let them be your trained surrogate while you are behind the wheel.