Top Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is an ongoing epidemic. Year by year, distracted driving accident statistics continue to increase around the globe. In Tennessee alone, distracted driving accidents increased from 10,822 in 2008 to 24,785 in 2017. While many things inside and outside the cab of the vehicle can distract a driver enough to cause an accident, certain distractions are more common than others. Passengers, cell phones, GPS systems, and food and drink are some of the most frequent causes. Resist distracted driving with the following tips.

Put Your Cell Phone Away

Cell phones are one of the deadliest sources of driver distraction. According to state cell phone laws, it is unlawful to use a handheld wireless electronic device to send or read text messages while driving in the state of Tennessee. While you can legally use a handheld device to make a phone call (if you’re not in a school zone), even this can be enough to cause a distracted driving accident. Obey the law and keep yourself and others safe by putting your phone away.

If you need to use your phone as a navigation system or for your job (e.g., an Uber driver), use hands-free technology such as voice commands and attach your phone to the dash. Otherwise, put your phone away for the duration of the drive. Turn your phone on silent and put it in a purse or glovebox for your drive. If this doesn’t work for you, consider downloading apps to help you stay off of your phone while you drive. Texting and driving kills. Put your phone down while you drive to arrive alive.

Prepare for Your Drive Ahead of Time

Minimize the odds of something unexpectedly derailing your drive by adequately preparing for a trip ahead of time. If you know you’ll be driving somewhere new, for example, get your GPS system set up with directions before leaving your parking space. Prepare for where you’ll be going, where you’ll need to take breaks and rest stops, what the weather will be like, and who will be in the vehicle with you. The more you prepare for your drive, the lower the likelihood of needing to fiddle with electronics, change your route last-minute, or do other things that could cause a distracted driving accident.

Secure Pets for Your Safety (and Theirs)

A common cause of distracted driving for pet owners is the pet jumping in the driver’s lap, moving around in the cab, knocking things over, and otherwise causing a commotion during a drive. If you plan on taking a trip with your cat or dog, invest in pet safety devices such as harnesses or tethers, and other restraint systems to keep your pet from being a distraction. Most pet restraint devices can also decrease your pet’s chances of serious injuries in the event of a car accident.

Practice Good Child Passenger Rules

Driving around with children can also lead to a very distracted driver. Children talking and asking questions, shouting, crying, fighting, and throwing things can all take a driver’s attention away from the road. Do your best to make children comfortable before starting your trip. Make sure children have all food, drinks, entertainment, etc. within reach so you don’t have to get things for them while you drive. If your child does need something during a drive, take the time to pull over in a safe location to address the need rather than trying to multitask.

Mentally Focus on Driving

The main type of distraction that causes accidents – above even cell phone use – is a wandering mind. If your thoughts are elsewhere, you could miss what’s happening around you. Focus on the driving task when you’re behind the wheel. If something is absorbing your cognitive attention, pull over until you can focus on driving again. Avoiding distracted driving accidents takes setting some rules and boundaries for yourself – physical and mental.