The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that around eight lives are lost nationwide to distracted driving incidents every day. According to the same report, there were 2,841 deaths and over 400,000 injuries resulting from distracted driving in 2018 alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies three main types of distraction:
From daydreaming to texting to eating, there are many factors that can divert our attention away from the road. This only needs to happen for mere seconds to cause an accident. While common forms of distraction such as smartphone use are typically associated with younger drivers, nobody is exempt from the behavior.
Your best defense against distracted driving is to practice the strategies that can help you stay focused behind the wheel. Read on to learn more.
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital suggests the “S-M-A-R-T” method to prevent driver inattention:
Stay focused on driving:
- Watch the road ahead
- Scan for hazards
- Keep an eye on blind spots
- Don’t remove your hands from the wheel
Make preparations in advance:
- Fasten seatbelts
- Secure loose items
- Complete personal grooming tasks
- Finish adjusting the radio and climate controls
Avoid other activities:
- Keep your phone away
- Stop before changing vehicle controls or consuming food/beverages
- Don’t reach for loose items or search for music
Rely on passengers to:
- Make calls or send messages
- Input directions
- Help children or pets
- Find items in the car
- Adjust vehicle controls
- Maintain a calm environment
- Avoid arguing with passengers
- Keep phones on silent and stop before answering
Know the Rules
It’s wise to familiarize yourself with state laws on distracted driving. In Maryland, for example, motorists are charged with fines of around $75 when caught using their smartphone behind the wheel.
That’s only for a first violation. Repeat offenses are cited with much higher penalties. If someone causes serious injury or death while texting and driving, they can be fined as much as $5,000 or face jail time of up to three years.
These laws help to keep negligent drivers off the roads. However, they do little to protect victims in distracted driving accidents. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you have the contact details for a reputable Houston car accident attorney so that you’re compensated fairly for any damages.
It might seem counterintuitive, but there are several apps that can assist in preventing distracted driving.
For instance, parents can use TextArrest to receive notifications whenever their child sends a message or answers a call behind the wheel. Teen drivers can also be monitored with Canary, which will inform parents if their young driver exceeds speed limits or leaves a set perimeter.
On the other hand, CellControl assists with responsible phone usage by only allowing passengers to use the driver’s device. Another popular app is DriveScribe, which blocks incoming calls and texts when traveling at certain speeds.
When it comes to reducing the presence of distracted driving, every effort counts. Be sure to inform family members and set the example when driving with passengers.