Would you consider yourself to be a careful or carefree driver? Whether you use your car simply to get from A to B, or you love the freedom and independence of being in charge of a vehicle, there’s no denying that driving a car carries an amount of risk.
According to a recent study, nearly 80% of car crashes and 65% of near crashes were at least in part caused by driver inattention. Even at low speeds, it only takes a moment’s distraction for something unforeseen to happen, with potentially devastating consequences for yourself, your passengers and other road users.
New drivers can be particularly at risk, which is why it is critical to embed the right skills and attitude right from the very start. “We make a point of teaching our learner drivers to be vigilant at all times. You only need to take your eye off the road for a split second for a potentially life changing accident to occur. It just isn’t worth the risk.” (Simply Driving Lessons)
Unfortunately, over time bad habits can creep in – you wouldn’t believe the things that people do in their cars that are downright dangerous and often illegal. Here are just 6 examples of what definitely not to do while driving.
Using your mobile phone
Using a handheld mobile device while driving is both controversial and incredibly dangerous. In an effort to make this as socially unacceptable as drink driving, there have been several high profile campaigns to stop people from using their mobile phones while driving.
From March 2017, the penalty for being caught using a mobile phone while driving has doubled. It now carries a £200 fine and 6 penalty points. Did you know that even touching your phone while you’re driving is illegal, even if you’re only checking messages or using the GPS?
Getting distracted by kids in the back seat
Children in the car can be a huge distraction that parents face on a regular basis. But what are the consequences of trying to calm a crying toddler or settle a sibling argument while you’re on the road? According to this report, driving with children is 12 times more important than using a mobile phone!
And if you still think you can handle the distraction, take a look at this interesting eye opener of an exercise where a professional racing driver is put to the test.
If you’re driving while feeling tired you might think you can keep your mind alert by winding down the window or turning up the radio. Unfortunately, sleep is one of the most powerful biological drivers – even the best driver in the world won’t be able to hold out against an overwhelming desire to close his eyes.
Drowsiness on the road is extremely dangerous, which is why you should do whatever you can to protect your and other road users’ safety. Here are some handy tips:
- Get a good night’s sleep before you embark on a long car journey
- Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours and stretch your legs, get a snack or switch drivers
- Share the driving
- Park the car and take a 15-20 minute nap in a safe place
- Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep
- Avoid consuming alcohol or medications that cause drowsiness
- Drink caffeine to increase alertness
Driving requires a calm mental state to enable you to be fully alert in traffic. When you’re experiencing anger or emotional upset, this is out of balance – with potentially hair raising consequences behind the wheel.
Aggressive driving may include tailgating, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, changing lanes without signalling or cutting in – all of which is dangerous driving behaviour that increases the risk of causing an accident. In extreme situations, angry driving can turn into road rage, where physical violence or a criminal act may be committed.
Rummaging around the car’s interior
You may be looking for a tissue in your handbag, rummaging around the glove department for some sunglasses, fiddling with the in-car music controls or retrieving a dropped coin from the floor. But what do all these actions have in common?
While the inside of the car is where you are physically situated while driving, with mod cons all around you, anything that diverts your attention from driving will make you take your eyes off the road. For all the obvious reasons, that’s not only a distraction but a real danger.
Multitasking while driving
Finally, we all lead busy lifestyles and often there seems to be insufficient time to fit everything into the day. Are you tempted to increase your productivity by multitasking – even in the car? Perhaps you’ve had breakfast on the go, or applied make-up on the way to work? Some people have even been known to catch up on reading, or answer emails, or watch films while behind the wheel of a car!
While multitasking certainly has its benefits, it cannot be overstated that you need full control of all your faculties to drive a car safely.