When driving, it’s always advisable to be attentive. Being attentive means attending to the exterior surroundings such as road conditions and traffic flow, the interior situation such as controls, instruments, passengers and to her own mind set.
The basics of driving, steering and pushing pedals can soon be emptied of interest. Then, the mind can wander. Why not? It is enticed by a myriad of things both inside the car and out that are more interesting than simply driving. Actual driving seems to demand attention only when something dreadful is pending or has already happened: a car jumps the centre divide, an SUV runs a stop sign, a truck loses its load, a sports car scoots from nowhere across the road from a blind junction, a child darts from between parked cars just to name a few.
Such things all seem to happen with no warning, but truth be told even “suddenly” is part of an evolution. The intelligent driver knows where trouble is likely to lurk and what situations cause the problems in the first place. The alert driver can spot problems early before they actually materialize. Here are four things that you must recognize that might help you as a driver to avoid the pitfalls of distraction.
- Recognize the risks of distractions. The first step is to realize that any distraction carries risk with it. You may feel that the world may stop because you dropped the cassette on the floor, but what’s true is that the world you’re driving in keeps motoring on.
- Recognize your own signs of distraction. As you drive your be self-watchful. Learn to spot the indicators that you are bored or inattentive. Have standard checks. What do you notice in your mirrors? What’s on the left of you? The right? If the scene has changed appreciably from the last time you checked you’ve been distracted.
- Recognize that a distraction is just an attraction elsewhere. When you see the lights and congestion of an accident in the opposite lane the urge to stare will increase drastically. Attend instead to maintaining your distance from the cars near you being aware that their drivers could be blindly distracted as well.
Once you realize how deadly distractions can be to you as a driver, you’ll find new ways to keep your attention focused.
Radio and CD Players
Learn your system well enough to use by touch and sound alone. When buying a car, opt for fingertip controls on the steering wheel and head-up displays for tuning, if available. CD players require less fiddling. Decide your listening mood before you start and load the CD player. Take advantage of the push button or scan devices on your sound system. If you are driving alone do your adjustments while stopped. If you have passengers, pre-instruct them in the use of the controls and let them be your trained surrogate while you’re behind the wheel.
Ensure your children are fastened in the appropriate car seats. If you are tempted to belt them in other ways be sure you stop first. Don’t get involved in inter-child arguments or who-started-it polemics. Forget the “Don’t make me stop this car!” threats. Stop the car. Get it settled. You cannot be an upset mother or father and an alert driver at the same time. Forbid games that involve tossing a ball or anything else that might get under foot and interfere with the controls. Sure, play the alphabet game but please don’t keep score.
Use a hands-free device for the phone and keep your hands on the wheel. Understand that it is the conversation itself, not the phone that is the most serious distraction. Keep it light, brief, and short. Realize that phone use of any kind, slows your reaction time thus lengthening braking time so allow other cars more space.
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