Focus on Driving: Tips for Avoiding Common Distractions that Lead to Car Crashes

“Distracted driving” is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.

It’s an increasingly serious and costly safety issue for businesses and individuals. And it contributes to 80% of vehicle crashes, according to the NHTSA.

How on-the-job crashes impact employers:

  • Increased medical care, legal expenses, property damage
  • Increased workers’ compensation, Social Security, and private health and disability insurance
  • Increased overhead to administer these programs
  • Lost productivity

Reduce Distractions: Plan Ahead and Enlist Passenger Cooperation

Granted, some distractions can be difficult to avoid. Embarking on a four-hour road trip without talking to passengers is unrealistic, for instance.

But you can reduce the impact of these distractions. For example:

  • Eat first. One of the safest (and most affordable) ways to keep yourself from becoming a distracted driver is to manage non-driving tasks before you get on the road.
  • Let passengers help. Letting your passengers help with tasks that could distract you – like answering the phone or adjusting the radio – can help you remain more focused on driving.
  • Avoid conflict. When driving, it’s helpful to avoid emotionally charged conversations with your passenger so you can keep your attention on the road.
  • Use steering wheel controls. Adjusting the AC or the radio can also pose a huge risk because it involves taking both eyes off the road and one hand off the wheel.
  • Pull over to attend to children. If children are in the car, be sure to pull over to a safe spot before tending to their needs.
  • Pull over to talk. If you must make or take a call, it’s best to pull to the side of the road first, even if your state doesn’t prohibit cellphone use while driving.

Driving Demands Your Undivided Attention

Some of the biggest hazards we face on the road will come from inside the cabins of our own vehicles. Just as all roads contain hazards, all commutes have their share of distractions. These can’t always be avoided, but through careful planning, you can help keep them from becoming crashes.