Driving requires our full attention and all the time. As we’re essentially moving a big chunk of metal around at speed, it’s crucial we know what’s going on around us; and there’s a lot going on. Whether it’s traffic, pedestrians or road signs, there’s always something to keep tabs on. Unfortunately, there are nearly endless amounts of driving distractions to contend with. These are the worst ones…
1) Fiddling With On-Board Electronics
Whether it’s trying to find that CD you love or tuning the radio, messing around with on-bard electronics is never a good idea. We all love the gadgetry found in modern cars and listening to our favourite music. However, none of it is worth taking our eyes off of the road for. Interestingly enough, some car models are now coming with CD players located on the passenger side of the vehicle; no doubt a recognition from car manufacturers that they can and do distract drivers.
2) Eating And Drinking
Eating and drinking whilst at the wheel isn’t a crime. That said, the Highway Code does call for an appropriate level of concentration whilst on the move. Whilst a cursory sip of water is hardly going to cause much trouble (especially at lower speeds) fiddling with lids and tucking into a sandwich can be dangerous. It means our hands aren’t firmly on the wheel and our minds are contending with two activities. Have some lunch before hitting the road.
We love our pets. Cats, dogs or anything in between they become a part of the family. Transporting them around via car can be stressful and so we naturally worry. Observing how they react can also be fascinating. But their antics should never interfere with our concentration levels. Pets are adorable, which makes them one of the worst driving distractions. Keep them properly secured and in the boot.
Driving can be a monotonous affair, especially when driving on endless stretches of motorway. It’s easy to lose yourself in your thoughts. In fact, it’s so prevalent it can even lead to the phenomenon known as ‘highway hypnosis’ in which drivers forget significant parts of their journeys. Whilst it’s only natural to contemplate at the wheel, it’s important not to drift too far away from our immediate surroundings; this is especially case if there’s something troubling us or lingering in our minds.
Cars have a lot of mirrors, both external and internal. The temptation is always there to check and alter our appearances; especially if we’re on the way to a social event or business meeting. Whether it’s applying makeup or playing with our hair, they’re definitely some of the worst driving distractions going.
6) Travelling With Kids
Driving with children can be a challenge and a (quite literal) headache. This is especially true on lengthy journeys and road trips in which their patience is pushed to its limit. Unhappy children can be noisy and energetic, so it’s wise to ensure they’re kept busy with something entertaining from the start of the journey.
It’s one of the great automotive mysteries and says a lot about human nature; it’s rubbernecking i.e. staring at car crashes and accidents. After all, what is it we find so alluring about peering into to other people’s misfortunes? It’s not as though car accidents are a rare occurrence. Either way, looking out of our side windows takes our eyes off of what’s in front of us. That’s a recipe for disaster. Show some respect and keep yourself safe.
8) Driving Whilst Tired
Without a doubt one of the worst driving distractions. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that being tired affects mental performance and concentration. But being tired whilst hurtling down the road at speed is a potentially lethal combination. Thousands of accidents are caused by fatigued drivers every year. Fatigue will affect how quickly you can react to changes in the road and your ability to handle the vehicle. Make sure to take plenty of breaks and to get plenty of sleep before lengthy drives.
9) Checking Texts
Our mobile phones are a focal point of our lives, precisely because they contain so much of it. Highly addictive, receiving a message or a notification releases endorphins; meaning they have similar affects to some drugs. This means it’s tempting to check them even whilst driving. This is a terrible idea. Think about it, you need to pick up your phone, access your messages and then read them. That’s an absurd amount of concentration lost. It’s a foolish and selfish driving distraction. Don’t do it.
10) Making A Phone Call
Probably the most dangerous of driving distractions, taking a phone call at the wheel is just asking for trouble. In the UK, using a mobile phone at the wheel will land you with an instant £200 fine and a whopping six penalty points if caught. There’s a reason the consequences are so tough…A very large amount of accidents are caused by drivers distracted by their phones. Making a call takes a hand out of action and robs you of your concentration. Consider a hands-free set or simply wait until you’re safely parked up somewhere to take a a call.