Ten driver distractions to avoid
With the road toll once again tipped to reach unacceptably high levels this year, we look at some of the most common distractions that can affect Australian drivers and endanger safety.
1. Smart Phones
Using your phone while driving is not only illegal but can be as dangerous as drink driving. Since it dramatically increases your risk of a serious crash, ask yourself if checking your socials or texts is really worth it. Put your phone in ‘Do not disturb’ mode while driving.
Driver fatigue really impacts your driving ability and reaction time. While falling asleep at the wheel is the main risk, drivers are also distracted by efforts to fight off tiredness, such as drinking coffee, listening to the radio and calling people on the phone. If you’re tired, avoid driving and rest up before getting behind the wheel again.
3. Eating or drinking at the wheel
Sipping on a coffee or munching on some fast food while driving is potentially dangerous. In fact, any food requiring concentration to avoid a spillage can take some of your attention away from the road ahead and traffic around you. Stop and dine in or wait until you arrive before eating and drinking.
4. Kids and pets in the car
Noisy kids and untethered pets in a car can easily demand your attention. It can happen on short and long drives, so keep your kids entertained with books or games and secure your pets before you start driving. It’ll mean you can keep both eyes firmly on the road.
5. Sunlight and visibility
Driving into the sun at dawn or dusk can be very distracting and limits your vision of the road ahead. To avoid looking into the sun, wear your sunnies, pull down your car's sun visor or just stop driving until the sun loses its sting.
Music and road trips go hand in hand but switching between radio stations or finding the perfect playlist to stream takes your focus off the road. Unfortunately, these simple actions can turn into a potential deadly hazard. So, choose your tunes when not driving.
7. Car tech and sat navs
Adjusting in-car tech or setting sat nav destinations while driving can take your attention away from the road and hamper your ability to drive safely. Always set your destination before you start driving and keep your device in a position where you can see it without taking your eyes completely off the road.
Unexpected surprises while driving can cause major accidents. Rogue insects and wildlife (yes, we’ve seen the snake in the car videos too) can make you panic and slam your foot on the brake or swerve. If possible, keep your cool, pull over safely and sort out whatever has distracted you. Make sure you calm down before joining the traffic again.
Rear view mirror grooming is a surprisingly common distraction for drivers. Applying make-up, fixing hair and adjusting clothes (usually on the way to work) can divert your attention away from what's happening around you on the road. Set that alarm 10 minutes earlier to get ready at home instead of doing it while the car is in motion.
Avoiding these distractions can help you stay focused on the road and reduce your risk of accident, but unfortunately some accidents are unavoidable. While nothing can ever replace the life of a loved one, motor insurance can help protect you from financial loss in the event of a car accident.