How to avoid distracted driving

Distracted driving can cause accidents on the road. There are lots of things that can cause your concentration to slip when you’re behind the wheel that you’ll want to avoid wherever possible. There are three main types of distractions you’ll come up against: visual, manual, and cognitive. 

Visual distractions cause you to take your eyes off the road. These could be things like looking at a sat nav or checking on a child in the rear of the car. Manual distractions mean you have to take your hands off the wheel for a moment, like changing the radio station, itching, or eating something.

Cognitive distractions occur when you stop fully concentrating on the road ahead because you’re chatting, singing along to a song, or thinking about your plans for dinner or trips you’d like to take. 

Common causes of distracted driving 

If you feel yourself getting distracted while you’re driving, please pull in, have a rest, and resolve whatever was causing you to lose focus. Check out the most common causes of distracted driving to help keep them to an absolute minimum when you’re out and about. 

Eating or drinking 

Eating or drinking distracts you from the task at hand and increases the risk to you and other road users. If you need to have a snack or drink, please pull over. You’ll enjoy it more anyway! 

car pulled over to prevent distracted driving on a country road

Using a sat nav 

Using a sat nav can be a big source of distraction when you’re driving. Being in an unfamiliar space can be stressful enough by itself, but taking your eyes off the road often to check the sat nav increases your risk of an accident. 

Check out our tips for using a sat nav safely while you’re on the road. 

Talking to passengers 

Turning around to talk to other passengers or check on children or pets in the back of the car is a big source of distraction. Make sure that all children and animals are properly secured in the vehicle and have plenty of entertainment to keep them calm and happy for the duration of your journey. 

Changing the music 

Fiddling around with the radio, changing CDs or trying to get Spotify to switch songs are all incredibly distracting when you’re driving. It’s always best to make a passenger the journey DJ, or if you’re alone, pre-prepare a playlist for the journey. 

Check out our top tips for creating a road trip playlist. Just make sure the tunes aren’t on too loudly, because that in itself can be a distraction! 

man using a phone in his car

Using your phone 

It’s illegal to use your phone while you’re driving, and you can face a hefty fine and points on your licence if you’re caught. No text message is worth risking the safety of everyone using the road. If you must take a call or reply to a message, pull over. 

Driving for too long 

If you’re on a long journey, make sure you schedule in plenty of breaks. You’re much more likely to be distracted if you’ve been looking at the road for great stretches of time without a break. Plan to have a rest every 2 hours or so to help keep your mind on the road and to prevent driver fatigue

Looking at things on the side of the road 

It’s easy to let your gaze wander over to the side of the road if there’s something unusual happening, but you really do have to try and be disciplined. ‘Rubbernecking’ at accidents is very common, and causes the traffic to slow down while drivers look at what’s happening, and can cause more traffic jams than necessary as a result. 

Smoking or vaping 

Just like eating and drinking behind the wheel, smoking and vaping causes big distractions. If you feel the need to have a drag, please don’t do it while you’re on the road. 

Over-familiarity with the road 

If you’re driving on a route that you’ve done a million times, you might allow your attention to wander. You can get complacent, and not spot a hazard in enough time to be able to react. Every time you get in your vehicle, you need to give the road your full attention, no matter how familiar you are with it.

These are some of the most common causes of distracted driving that you need to be on the lookout for. Make sure you, or the person driving the vehicle you’re in, pay the road full attention to keep everyone safe. 

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