Five Best Ways to Avoid Driver Distraction
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is calling attention to the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month by offering advice and insight from the elite professional truck drivers who make up ATA’s Share the Road highway safety program. Since 1986, the Share The Road program has been teaching the public how to share the road with large tractor trailer trucks. The program’s goal is to change driving behavior so that we can save lives.
Distracted Driving Awareness Month began in 2014 when the U.S. Department of Transportation noticed an increase in distracted driving and sought to bring awareness to the issue. Many organizations throughout the country are dedicated to improving highway safety. The ATA recognizes Distracted Driving Awareness Month as an impactful method to bring devotion to this cause, specifically among younger drivers.
Share the Road professional truck drivers have encountered many varieties of distracted driving behaviors while transporting freight across America. Here’s a list of the five best ways a driver can maintain attention and get home safe.
1) Out of sight + Out of mind
Every person knows the feeling of seeing a notification and wanting to instantly respond. Putting your phone on silent and storing it somewhere that is not visible, but easily accessible, is the best way to avoid temptation.
2) Never text and drive
There are very little driving habits that are worse than texting and driving. Taking your eyes off the road to send a one-word text takes at least 5 seconds. Do not take those five seconds for granted! According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the distance of a football field blindfolded.
3) Be prepared to drive
Make sure you’re completely awake by getting the appropriate amount of sleep the night before. There are many habits in which we can get distracted throughout the day and there are definitely times when we have to multitask. Driving is not one of those times. A study by researchers in Australia showed that being awake for 18 hours produced impairments equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 and .10 after 24 hours; .08 is considered legally drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries.
4) Properly secure all loose items
Properly secure all objects and certainly do not place anything on your lap or nearby the driver’s side floor. Items can slide beneath your brake pedal and prevent you from stopping if wrongly secured.
5) Do not drive while emotionally distracted.
Emotional driving is a huge distraction. This can include being upset, crying, or getting angry while driving. Ideally, it’s best to wait to drive until you have control over your emotions. However, this is not always realistic. Instead, try to calm down as much as you can, take deep breaths, and put all your focus on driving. If you experience road rage while driving, it is important to try self-help methods to combat this.