Distracted Driving – External Distractions

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,670
    Dr. Bill Van Tassel, manager of AAA Driver Training, discusses distracting tasks that drivers should take care of at home, instead of attempting in traffic.

    How to Avoid Distracted DrivingExternal DistractionsDr. Bill Van Tassel: Hi! I'm Dr. Bill Van Tassel, Manager of Driver Training Programs for AAA. Here to discuss how to avoid distracted driving. Let's talk about some tasks that you should never do in a car.

    Driving requires your full attention. Despite this, some people view that time as a wasted time, during which they should find other things to do or catch up on activities they did not have time for earlier.

    Many commuters are under driving morning rush hour traffic while attempting personal grooming such as a blind makeup, putting on a tie, even shaving. A good rule of thumb is if you anticipate having to do it on the road, make time to do it before you leave. This includes tasks that may seem benign, but can actually create significant distraction like smoking, eating, and drinking.

    If you must perform these tasks well on the road, use good judgment to anticipate and minimize the potential for distraction. Be sure to avoid messy and difficult to handle foods and beverages. Open containers before you get moving, not while juggling the steering wheel. Of course, buckle your safety belt, and adjust seats and any other instrumentation before you embark, not while the car is in motion.

    If you prefer to know about possible bad weather, heavy traffic or construction zones, check these things before you leave, so that you can plan ahead to avoid these conditions instead of looking them up on a handheld wireless device while on route.

    If you need to consult a map while on your trip, do so only when pull over and safely stopped. Never try to reach for an object out of your reach when you're seated in the driver's seat. This frequently involves taking your eyes off the road and it is incredibly easy to unintentionally steer the vehicle out of the lane. With a forethought, you can anticipate and avert potential distractions.

    Drivers can also be distracted by objects and events outside the vehicle, including crash scenes, billboards, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motors and passengers, emergency vehicles, even animals crossing the path of travel.

    Drivers can also be tempted to look away from the roadway. Well, it may appear harmless. It is actually very risky. If you look away for just two seconds, your crash risk doubles. So keep your eyes moving, scanning for anything in the driving environment that might be a risk, and adjust your speed and/or position accordingly.

    If you find your mind wandering, or if you can't maintain concentration on driving, remind yourself to stay focused on the road, or pull over to take a break, if you find yourself lost in thought while driving.

    Remember, when you're behind the wheel, driving safely should be your most important focus. In the next video, Justin will address distractions caused by the use of handheld cellular phones.