It is a common to see motorists driving while using their mobile phones. Some motorists, with a lot of impunity, ignore this form of distracted driving and end up causing an accident. By the time they remember to keep the phone away, the regret has outweighed the action.
Forms of distractive driving
Paul Kwamusi, a road safety consultant at Integrated Transport Systems Limited, says there are various forms of distracted driving you should beware of. The first is visual distracted driving where you take your eyes off the road, which is where driving and phone usage falls.
Your eyes may not only be on phone but you could also be looking at something else, say people fighting by the roadside, a house you are admiring from a distance, a skimpily dressed woman crossing the road, especially for male motorists or a beautiful hill.
Visual distractions may also be driving while watching videos on the screen of your dashboard or as you look for buttons to change radio stations or looking for something else in your car.
“The absurd bit with visual distractive driving is that your eyes are glued to something and you forget that the car is still in motion. By the time you get your eyes back on the road, you have either knocked another road user or the car is already headed for the swamp or overturning on a hill. The severity of the crash is determined by the speed at which you were driving,” Kwamusi explains.
To prevent danger and effects of visual distractive driving, understand that you are the eyes of your car. You do not only give the car direction but you also appropriately think and decide for it depending on the road circumstances.
Mental or cognitive distraction
Charles Ssebambulidde, the spokesperson of the Traffic Directorate, says some motorists drive while unprepared. The body is on the steering wheel but the mind is somewhere else. For instance, you could be driving but when the mind is thinking about unpaid bills, an assignment you did not accomplish at work or the relationship woes you are going through. In this case, the car is moving itself.
“When your mind is not thinking about driving, it is a barrier that hinders you from making the right decisions on the road. You could carelessly continue accelerating yet there is zebra crossing ahead of you and you end up knocking pedestrians crossing the road,” Ssebambulidde explains.
“The moment you enter your car, adjust your mindset accordingly regardless of what you could be going through. It is sometimes hard but you could endanger your life and that of other road users if you do not,” Ssebambulidde advises. He is also quick to advise that if you intend to drink alcohol, it is important to note that it compromises your ability to make sound decisions on the road. To most drinkers, it also compromises your vision, thus causing accidents.
Manual distractive driving
Unlike visual and cognitive driving distractions, William Kawuma, a motorist, says manual driving distraction is when you manually accept something to stand in your way while driving. For instance, you may be driving and you get your hands off the steering wheel to open a bottle of water or even occupy both hands with food.
Kawuma advises that to avoid causing accidents due to manual distractions, plan your journey and know which points to stop and eat. Alternatively, if eating while driving is unavoidable, you could stop by the roadside in a safe place and eat before getting back on the road.
It is sometimes unavoidable to drive without any music playing in the car, listening to news on the car radio or when your passengers want to engage you in a conversation. These are all considered audio driving distractions because they do not only take away your hearing senses but they also stop you from paying attention to the environment outside the car.
For example, you could listen more to the conversations your passengers are engaging you in and do not hear the right of way siren such as one from an ambulance and you contradict with the law that could attract a penalty.
What is important to note is that all these and many more forms of distractive driving lead to accidents.
You do not wish your loved ones to be at the receiving end of a phone call or their doors knocked at informing them of your passing when you die in a road crash because of distractions that could have been avoided.
Tips to help you focus on the road
Nearly everyone is guilty of some form of distracted driving. In fact, distracted drivers are almost everywhere you look: the cell phone socialite, the in-car iPod DJ, the high-fashion cosmetician, the 3-course meal king or queen.
Here are some good ideas to help you drive more safely:
1. Use your cell phone for emergency situations only. While you are driving, a cell phone should only be used for emergency purposes. Even then, it is best to pull over safely to the right shoulder to make a call.
2.If you are drowsy, pull off the road. Drowsiness increases the risk of a crash by nearly four times. If you feel tired, get off the road; do not try to get home faster.
3. You should limit the number of passengers, as well as the level of activity inside the car. Driving with friends can create a dangerous driving environment because novice drivers are focused on their friends rather than the road.
4. Avoid eating while driving. Being busy is no excuse for distracted driving. Finishing your breakfast on the way to work or school may seem like a time-saver, but it means you are less attentive to the drivers around you. Food spills are a major cause of distraction.
5. Do your multi-tasking outside the car. Everyone spends a lot of time in their vehicles, and it may seem like the perfect time to get little things done: calling friends, searching for good music, maybe even text messaging. Do not do it.