The PBS Newshour recently produced a really good story about the dangers of distracted driving.
In an effort to help educate our Bakersfield community about how to avoid distracted driving, we would like to provide the following information.
Distracted driving causes a large portion of automobile collisions. A study by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed driver distractions were behind 65 percent of near-crashes and 80 percent of crashes. NHTSA has provided information about distracted driving here. NHTSA has also created a website dedicated to the reduction of distracted driving at www.distraction.gov. With most crashes occurring within 3 seconds after the driver is distracted, taking the following steps to avoid being distracted behind the wheel could save your life.
The first method is to avoid multitasking while driving. Here are some suggestions that can help:
- Only Use Your Cell Phone While Stopped
- Using a hands-free phone does not reduce the level of distraction. Even with hands free Bluetooth systems, a person is still involved in the phone call at the expense of paying attention to the road ahead.
- What can make matters worse is using a cell phone to send text messages or reply to e-mails. This means that both hands may be taken from the steering wheel. All drivers should be aware that a car is a multi-ton mass of metal that can be lethal when not properly controlled.
- Calling or texting while driving is illegal in California.
- Resist the Urge to Eat while Driving
- I know we all love In-N-Out Burgers, but it is best to avoid eating while driving. Eating involves not only putting food in your mouth, but often also first removing the wrapper it comes in. The time you think you’ll save is often lost to the distractions it causes.
- Avoid Applying Makeup While Driving
- Putting on makeup or fixing your hair while driving invites distraction when you look into your car’s mirror. When you drive, it is very important to keep an eye on the road and the vehicles around you. When you are applying makeup or fixing our hair, you are focused on your image in the mirror and not on the road. It’s better to fix your makeup before you get into the car or plan to arrive at your destination early enough to fix it there. Taking an extra few minutes before or after driving can save a life.
- Prepare the Music You Like Before You Drive
- If you like playing CDs, use a CD changer that allows you to play multiple CDs instead of changing a CD every time you’ve played it.
- If you use an MP3 player or you smart phone, have a playlist ready with your favorite music so you do not have to look or manipulate your device as you drive.
The other way to avoid distracted driving is to prepare for your drive so you don’t have to react to children, animals or controls of your car.
- Know the Controls of Your Car Before Driving
- The location of the car’s controls can differ from car to car. Know where to find important controls, such as the gearshift, turn signals, windshield wipers, cruise control and headlights before you go, particularly if you’re driving a rental car or a friend’s car for the first time.
- Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time
- Prepare your maps so you can plan your route out before you go. If you need to check your map to review your plans en route pull off the road. One helpful tip, if you get lost, you are better off asking a taxi driver or taxi company for instructions before going to a gas station.GPS units have become more common including in smart phones. The problem is that they can also distract you. If you must use a portable GPS unit, keep it where it won’t force you to take your eyes off the road. Most built-in GPS units are placed within a 30-degree field of view from the windshield. If you are using a smart phone for GPS, ask you passenger to be the navigator.
- Avoid Driving to Exhaustion
- If you feel too tired to drive, pull off the road at a safe location. Trying to get home faster to beat falling asleep requires more effort to control the car. It can only take a few seconds of nodding off to drive your car off the road. Many deadly head-on collisions are caused by people falling asleep at the wheel.
- Secure Your Passengers
- Passengers and pets can distract you from driving if they aren’t managed properly.
- Teach your children not to distract you when you’re driving. Buckle them up correctly and provide them with age-appropriate books and toys. If you still need to discipline them, pull off the road at a safe place.
- Secure your pet in a carrier or harness while you’re driving.
It is important to remember that a driver’s license is a contract with all of the other drivers on the road to follow the rules and drive safely. A fundamental part of that obligation is to make sure that when you drive, you are not distracted.
Faulkner Law Offices represents injured people in Kern County and Bakersfield California who have suffered injuries following an accidental injury. For more information on filing injury claim, call (661) 327-0601.
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