In our last post, we looked at a few of the common distractions that compromise our ability to drive safely. Today, we'll examine a few more:
- Grooming: For most of us, it's quite the feat when we find ourselves hitting our morning commute having groomed ourselves and eaten breakfast. However, rushed mornings typically mean that we do these things hurriedly, and spend a good part of the rest of the morning thinking about them, or trying to complete them. That bit of orange stuck between your teeth? Of course it's annoying...but resist the urge to seek it out in the reflection in your visor's vanity mirror; your eyes need to be on the road. Same goes for putting on makeup. Find another time and place to squeeze those things in.
- Playing around with car controls: your comfort when driving is definitely a priority. After all, comfortable drivers tend to be safer drivers. Does this mean that you shouldn't make adjustments to temperature and things of the like when you are on the road? No, but it does mean that you need to review how to do this safely. Your eyes should never be off of the road. This means that you'll need to do some homework: practice using the controls when you're not driving to the point where you know where everything is without looking. Also, avoid taking your had off the wheel when you are moving. Try and wait until you are stopped to do this.
- Driving to let off steam: no matter how much you enjoy driving, it's important to recognize that cars are vehicles of transportation, not therapy. Getting onto the road with a deliberate intention to mull and brood is unwise: you know your mental focus is compromised! You'd be much better off working out your frustration through a good long walk. It's safer, and more effective (exercise improves mood and clarity of thinking significantly).
- Fumbling with directions: There was a time when this meant fidgeting with maps, and perusing pieces of paper with directions scribbled onto them (for some, this may still be the case)...but don't make the assumption that you are immune to this distraction simply because you have a gps. How often have we started our journeys without programming our device, figuring we can simply select our destination from our list of saved addresses only to realize that the gps is failing to connect with a satellite, leaving us distractedly glancing at and fidgeting with it to try to get the connection going? Or how many times has the gps brought us to an incorrect address only to have us attempt to re-enter coordinates while we're still driving? This distraction can be just as—if not more—dangerous as playing around with controls. To avoid this, be sure your route has been calculated before you start driving. If you find that you are lost, keep driving in the direction you are going until you find a safe place to stop. Pull your vehicle over, enter your new address, and be sure the route is calculated before taking off.