Everyone knows that driving under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous. However, most drivers are now also realizing that making phone calls while driving poses a major safety risk. But how risky is quickly typing a text message or checking Google Maps? Far more risky than you can imagine!
The latest Allianz road safety study, which surveyed 1,600 drivers involved in accidents in the past three years in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, found that 60 percent had used their smartphones before the accident.
Dr Joerg Kubitzki, accident researcher at the Allianz Center for Technology, tells you how to identify distractions and deal with them...
Hands-free but not risk-free
Whether you hold it in your hand or connect it to a hands-free set, a smartphone becomes a distraction the moment it rings...sometimes even before that if you continuously check it. Even if using a hands-free set while driving is legally allowed, use it only sparingly in exceptional cases. You may also be more preoccupied with devices and functions such as the on-board computer than you realize.
Learn your car’s language
How does the adaptive cruise control work? Why does that radio switch itself on without any prior warning and broadcast traffic announcements? Your car talks to you; learn its language. Familiarize yourself with the operational functions offered by your car before you begin on your journey.
Mentally tune out co-passengers
Road traffic makes enough demands on your mind. Calls made by co-passengers could add to those demands, as could glimpses of what’s on their tablet screens. We tend to passively participate in the call by involuntarily reconstructing what’s being said by the person on the other end of the line, so the whole conversation makes sense to us. As a driver, try to mentally block out phone calls, arguments and loud children. Decide before the journey starts how you would deal with such disturbances and inform your passengers accordingly.
Out of sight, out of mind
To avoid the temptation of checking your smartphone or tablet while driving, put it somewhere you don’t see it. That place could be inside your bag or even the trunk of your car if the temptation is too strong for you to resist. A device that perhaps need more willpower is the navigation system. Don’t check it, nor enter destinations or look up itinerary options while driving. Other than smartphones, navigation systems are the biggest distractors for many drivers.