‘Just Drive’ to minimize distractions behind the wheel

‘Just Drive’ to minimize distractions behind the wheel
It was just a quick call.
It was just a picture.
It was just an email.
It was just a glance.
It was just a text.

“’Just’ is all it takes,” according to the National Safety Council, which observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The council is working to empower drivers to put safety first and “Just Drive.”

In 2016, about 40,000 people died in U.S. motor vehicle crashes; the top three causes of fatalities on the road are alcohol, speeding and distracted driving.

While many distractions exist while driving, cell phones are a top distraction because so many drivers use them for long periods of time.

Myth vs. reality:

“I can multi-task while driving”

The brain can quickly toggle between tasks but can’t do two things at the same time, like driving and talking on the phone. Driving and talking are both thinking tasks, and the brain switches between the two and slows reaction times. Activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to one-third when a driver is listening to or talking on a phone, according to the NSC.

“Talking on a cell phone is just like speaking to a passenger”

Passengers can be good for you, as adult passengers can help the driver and be alert to traffic problems. The person you are talking to on the phone can’t see what is going on.

“Speaking hands-free is safe”

Drivers talking on the phone—even hands-free—can miss seeing up to 50 percent of their driving environments, including pedestrians and red lights.

“I only use my phone at a stop light, so it’s OK”

Even at stop lights it is important to remain attentive to your surroundings. A recent AAA study shows that people are distracted up to 27 seconds after they finish sending a voice text or using their phones.

“Voice-to-text is safe to do while driving”

You may not actually be looking at the phone, but it still can be distracting. Additionally, the temptation to check for autocorrect errors may move your eyes from the road to your phone.

An NSC webinar on how to eliminate distractions around you while driving is available via YouTube.

Other organizations also share information online about distracted driving, including Virginia Farm Bureau associates Drive Smart Virginia and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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