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How to Avoid Distractions Behind The Wheel

How to Avoid Distractions Behind The Wheel
© Provided by Motoring Research

From: Motoring Research

Getting distracted while driving is a shortcut to an accident. Avoiding distractions will help keep you, your passengers and others safe.

Here, we outline the biggest distractions behind the wheel, and how to avoid them.

Distractions can be visual, auditory, physical or cognitive. Are you looking at, listening to or thinking about something that is taking your attention away from the road? In other words, are you doing something in addition to driving?

Attempting to multi-task can dramatically reduce your driving performance, from your reaction times and decision making, to your overall control of the car.

“As drivers, we now deal with more distractions than ever before,” says Sandra Macdonald-Ames, a writer on road safety.

“There are so many potential demands on our attention, some inside the car, some on the outside and others occurring inside our heads. There is the potential for us to allow any distraction to take our minds off the central task of driving – with potentially disastrous consequences.

“But the good news is that we can banish just about any distraction, as long as we want to. This is best achieved through straightforward self-discipline and sensible journey planning.”



Driven to distraction

So what distracts us the most, and how do we stop? These are GEM Motoring Assist’s top tips for keeping your mind on the road.



Phones away

We hardly need to explain this one. Six points and a £200 fine is the penalty for using a mobile phone behind the wheel. Put it on silent, out of reach and out of sight, to avoid the temptation to check messages.

Bored in traffic? Still don’t. It’s illegal to use your phone behind the wheel unless you’re at a standstill, the engine is off and the keys are out of the ignition.



Map it out

Planning your route is a great way to make driving easier. It means you’re prepared for every step of the journey, instead of constantly planning your next move. Having it rehearsed in your head means your sat-nav won’t be so much of a distraction, either.



DJ off the decks

Unlike the world’s best DJs, you won’t be criticised for having a prearranged set before you drive. In fact, we recommend it, so you’re not tempted to faff about finding a particular song. Keep the volume down and don’t get too into it. We all love a singalong, but don’t let it turn your attention from the road.



Busy the litter

Travelling with children? They can be the noisiest, liveliest distraction. Make sure they’ve got something to keep them busy, so they don’t busy you. Older children shouldn’t be too much of a bother. Getting their help with observations should prime them for when they start driving, too.


Snack discipline

Your dietitian and car cleaner won’t be the only ones who thank you for keeping food consumption out of the car. Holding a snack means you have a hand off the wheel, and your mini-meal could be a distraction. Pull over for a bite in a service station if you simply can’t wait. Breaks for food and drink are good practice on long trips, so it’s a win-win.



Wakey-wakey

Of course, all of this means nothing if you’re in no state to drive yourself. Generally, you should be taking a 15-minute break from the car every two hours. A well-rested, hydrated driver is a better and safer driver. Get some fresh air, stretch your legs. A caffeinated drink might be in order, too.

See more at Motoring Research

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Autos Magazine: How to Avoid Distractions Behind The Wheel
How to Avoid Distractions Behind The Wheel
What distracts us most when we're driving, and how can we stay focused? Here's our guide to staying safe behind the wheel.
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