No matter how experienced you are at driving, we've all overestimated our ability to multi-task while on the road. Here are some of the most common lures that we fall prey to:
- Conversations and idle chatter: While you don't necessarily need to take a vow of silence every time you get into your car to drive, there does come a point—for all drivers—where conversations can become distracting. The reason for this is that when you become engrossed in the conversation, without realizing it, you involve your body: rolling your eyes, shrugging, even giving a playful smack. That momentary loss of focus can actually have huge consequences.
- Using your phone: While it is illegal across all of Canada now to use a handheld cell phone for talking or texting, they are still among the foremost of distractions for today's drivers. For one, many simply disregard the law, and “sneak” in a chat here, a text message there, under the notion that if they haven't been caught, all is well. But an even subtler way that these devices are continuing to make hazards of themselves is through the mistaken belief that using a handset is completely safe. As we've just discussed, conversation itself is a distraction.
- Tuning: Certainly, having the music you enjoy playing in the background can make a long ride more enjoyable...and assuming you're not trying to dance along, the music itself shouldn't be a distraction. However, adjusting the volume, changing the CD, or navigating to the music you want on your mp3 player are all examples of behaviours that take both your mental and physical focus off of the road. Do a little bit of planning ahead, and get your music going the way you want it before you start driving.
- Eating: Understandably, time is tight for many of us. Juggling work, home life, and social commitments only leaves us with so much time for rest and nourishment. That said, if you're going to squeeze in an impromptu meal or snack somewhere in your day, don't make it on your drive. Needless to say, the act of trying to juggle a burger, pop, and a steering wheel is one that doesn't bode well. This is not to say that you shouldn't grab something to eat in between destinations: take your drive thru spoils to a parking spot closeby, give yourself a few minutes to eat undistractedly, and then continue your journey.