As road conditions continue to deteriorate the closer we get to winter, it is more important than ever to avoid distracted driving. As of September of this year, not only is it unsafe to drive distracted, it's now illegal -- you could face a $192 fine for not paying proper attention to the road! It's easy to fall into bad driving habits, but remember that it's your responsibility to be as safe as you possibly can on the road since you share the road with others. To help you understand distracted driving, we've compiled a list of the most common forms of distracted driving.
- Talking on the phone. This is the big one. Cell phones have become ubiquitous in modern society. You can tell this is the case by how difficult it is to find a pay phone in any given Canadian city! Almost everyone now has a mobile phone, and while there are considerable benefits to the telecommunications boom, it has led to more people talking on the phone while driving. One of the most simple tricks for those of us who find it irresistible to talk on the phone while driving is to put your phone in the trunk before you hop in the car. This way no matter what happens, you won't be tempted to pick up your phone.
- Eating in the car. While it may seem like a good idea to save some time in the morning by eating while driving, the statistics show that you can't do both well at the same time. A simple granola bar may not affect your driving, but trying to eat a full breakfast on the road will mean that your attention is directed away from your most important task: driving!
- Fiddling with the music player. If you have an iPod hookup in your car, it can often be tempting to try to change songs while driving. In winter this is a recipe for disaster; even looking down for a split second could mean that you miss a patch of ice and go careening off the road. Winter requires extreme vigilance, so set up a playlist ahead of time and leave it be for the duration of your commute. If you really must change your music, pull over at a gas station and park your car first.
- Inputting coordinates in your GPS unit. GPS units can be incredibly useful tools for getting proper directions to and from places. They are, however, meant to be programmed before a trip, not during a trip. If you have made a mistake in inputting coordinates, pull over at a gas station and park your car before using your GPS unit. Doing so while driving is extremely dangerous, as it directs your attention away from the road. Remember that even a split second loss of attention means that you are putting yourself and other drivers on the road in danger!