Each year in the month of April, we recognize the importance of staying focused on the road to keep yourself and others safe. Distracted driving is defined by the NHTSA as any activity that diverts attention from driving. Some of the most common ways to drive distracted include: talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in the car and messing with the radio controls – are all dangerous behaviors to avoid.
In 2020, 3,142 lives were lost to distracted driving. To help do your part in reducing the dangers it’s important to get involved in awareness efforts.
Here are some of the things you can do to help stop distracted driving.
Lead by Example
Whether you’re a parent, friend, or family member and have people in your car, you should always follow the rules of the road and model the importance of focusing on the task of driving with no distractions. If your kids are watching you text while you drive or talk on the phone chances are they will do the same behaviors when they’re on the road.
As with anything dangerous, it’s important to speak up when you see something wrong. If you’re driving with someone and they are not focused or doing things like texting, turning radio stations, and paying attention to someone in the back seat, speak up and correct their actions.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
One recent issue making headlines includes the use of partially automated vehicles. As these cars become more popular, the need to have safeguards in place to keep people from being too lax about their attention to the roadway is important. To do so the systems will monitor a person’s gaze, head posture, and hand position to check that they are actively engaged in driving.
In light of this, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is working on a new framework for rating partially automated vehicles and how well they help drivers stay focused on the road. It includes checking that these cars have systems in place that will monitor and ensure a driver’s eyes are directed at the road and that their hands are on the wheel or ready to grab it at all times. The systems will also be required to contain alerts and emergency procedures when drivers do not follow these rules. While automated cars can be beneficial for long drives and for other uses, they should never replace the need to pay attention to the road ahead.