We all know that drunk driving kills but how many of us know that distracted driving is causing even more deaths than drunk drivers? This is according to the surprising information recently released by the OPP: Inattentive drivers have been linked to twice as many road deaths as impaired drivers so far (as of mid-August) this year.
What is distracted driving?
Texting while at the wheel is one of the most dangerous examples of distracted driving that has certainly caused fatalities. Hopefully you don’t do this and have asked, begged and pleaded with those you love to never text while driving either.
But what about talking hands-free on your phone? It turns out that talking hands-free is not risk-free. Studies show that it is the conversation that is distracting us, not so much that one hand was holding the phone to your ear (although two hands on the wheel is always better than one.) When you think about it, it does make sense: if we hear something upsetting, offensive or hilarious, our thoughts have a reaction to it and even though our eyes are on the road, what we are seeing does not have our full attention.
Besides using our phones to talk or text, other examples of distracted driving are:
- Drinking or eating – hot coffee in your lap is no joke
- Personal grooming, applying make-up or using a shaver
- Using your GPS or a map
- Checking your playlist
- Anything that takes your attention away from the road
How to avoid distracted driving
Unexpected distractions are going to happen but you can definitely avoid many types of distractions by being prepared. These tips will help:
- Program the GPS before you leave,
- When you hit the drive-thru, take a few minutes to eat in the parking lot
- Your well-being is more important than that call – let it go to voicemail
- If you must take or make a call, pull over somewhere safe to do so (a parking lot or rest stop is much safer than the side of the road)
- Finish grooming at home, in the parking lot or the office washroom!
Think of the possible distractions in your car, which certainly includes children, pets and passengers, and prepare them to help you drive safely. And if you find yourself as a passenger of a distracted driver, speak up for yourself (and them) so you do not become part of these sad statistics.
Change your driving behaviour
Knowledge is power so now that you know how dangerous distracted driving can be, we all need to change our habits behind the wheel. These days ‘drive to stay alive’ has become a daily challenge that truly requires our full attention.
Learn about the penalties and fines associated with distracted driving in Ontario.