Just about everyone can agree that we have a problem with distracted driving in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was the cause for 3,477 deaths in 2015. The problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better, something that several personal injury lawyers can no doubt tell you. All it takes is a short drive down any highway in the country to see drivers who are more concerned with sending texts, talking on their cell phones, looking for a new radio station, or eating a full meal than they are with what’s on the road.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about other distracted drivers short of contacting an personal injury lawyer if you’re in an accident, but there are things you can do to keep yourself from being distracted on the road. Here are just a few easy things that you can do the next time you’re on the road.
Turn Off Your Phone
Most people will tell you that it’s dangerous to use a cell phone while driving, yet it never stops them from making phone calls or sending texts on the highway. While there is nothing wrong with having a cell phone in your car in case of an emergency, texting someone about your weekend plans doesn’t count as an emergency. If you’re the kind of person who can’t simply ignore a notification of any kind, turn your phone off until you reach your destination. If you absolutely need to make a phone call, wait until you can stop before you start dialing.
Keep Everything Organized
If you need to use a GPS or know that you’ll need your wallet to pay a toll, try to have all of that ready to go before you start moving. Enter your destination into your GPS before you put your vehicle in gear, and don’t be afraid to have your wallet sitting out next to you where you can easily reach it. If you like to listen to your radio while you drive, find a good station and stick with it until you come to a stop somewhere.
Don’t Drive Drowsy
Sleep deprivation can inhibit your ability to drive as easily as alcohol. You might be tempted to drive all night to reach your destination quickly, but your drowsy state can make you a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road. If you’re making a long-distance road trip, make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before. If you think you’re going to fall asleep behind the wheel, pull over and take a nap or have a passenger take the wheel for a couple of hours. Anything is better than falling asleep at 60 miles per hour.
Limit Passenger Activity
Whether it’s because of kids fighting in the back seat or a drunken buddy loudly discussing how much he likes to party, your passengers can be a big distraction. You need to concentrate on the road, so either tell your rowdier passengers to settle down or limit the number of people who ride with you.
Stop to Eat Your Lunch
Drive-throughs are wonderfully convenient if you need to eat and run, but you shouldn’t be eating large meals when you’re driving. Buy your food at the drive-through window, and pull over somewhere to eat. Failing that, find a sit-down restaurant to take a break from the road.
Don’t Space Out
You might find yourself starting to space out if you’re making a familiar commute. You might be thinking too hard about a problem at work or about a serious discussion that you’ve had with a friend only to find that you’re not paying attention to what’s right in front of you. You might even start to fall victim to highway hypnosis, that zoned-out state that can result from hours staring at moving asphalt and listening to a droning engine. If this is happening to you, try listening to music on the radio to distract your mind or pull over and take a break from driving.
When it comes to driving, the most important thing to remember is that it takes all of your concentration to remain safe. You can’t do anything about what other people are doing in their own vehicles, but you can take personal responsibility for your own driving. Keep your eyes on the road at all times, and try to limit anything that can distract you.