Whenever you are driving a vehicle and your attention is not on the road, you’re putting yourself, your passengers, other vehicles, and pedestrians in danger. Distracted driving can result when you perform any activity that may shift your full attention from the driving task. Taking your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel presents obvious driving risks. Mental activities that take your mind away from driving are just as dangerous. Your eyes can gaze at objects in the driving scene but fail to see them because your attention is distracted elsewhere.
Activities that can distract your attention include: texting, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, CD player or climate controls; eating, drinking or smoking; reading maps or other literature; picking up something that fell; reading billboards and other road advertisements; watching other people and vehicles including aggressive drivers; talking and/or texting on a cell phone or CB radio; using telematics devices (such as navigation systems, pagers, etc.); daydreaming or being occupied with other mental distractions.
If drivers react a half-second slower because of distractions, crashes double. Some tips to follow so you won’t become distracted:
• Review and be totally familiar with all safety and usage features on any in-vehicle electronics, including your wireless device or cell phone, before you drive.
• Pre-program radio stations.
• Pre-load you favorite CDs or cassette tapes.
• Clear the vehicle of any unnecessary objects.
• Review maps and plan your route before you begin driving.
• Adjust all mirrors for best all-round visibility before you start your trip.
• Do not attempt to read, text, or write while you drive.
• Avoid smoking, eating and drinking while you drive.
• Don’t engage in complex or emotionally intense conversations with other occupants.
You need to be able to recognize other drivers who are engaged in any form of driving distraction. Not recognizing other distracted drivers can prevent you from perceiving or reacting correctly in time to prevent a crash. Watch for:
• Vehicles that may drift over the lane divider lines or within their own lane.
• Vehicles traveling at inconsistent speeds.
• Drivers who are preoccupied with maps, food, cigarettes, cell phones, or other objects.
• Drivers who appear to be involved in conversations with their passengers.
Give a distracted driver plenty of room and maintain your safe following distance. Be very careful when passing a driver who seems to be distracted. The other driver may not be aware of your presence, and they may drift in front of you.
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