Thursday, October 6, 2011

Driving Tip: Concentration and Distractions

This article was written before Washington state and others made it illegal to text or talk on your cell phone without using a hands-free device.  Sadly, even on my commute in today I saw many of the examples described in this article.  I also saw a lady with a bouncy, fluffy white dog on her lap, holding an espresso cup in one hand, trying to merge onto the freeway.

We are coming to the end of Drive Safely Work Week.  Think about the extra things you do while driving down the road.  Which ones could wait until you got home or to work?  Share with your friends and co-workers (and especially your teens) ideas on ways to reduce distractions while behind the wheel.

Contributed by Ross Bentley

There seems to be more and more distractions around us each day. Not only are there more traffic and street signs to deal with everyday, but technology is making it more difficult. Stereos, cell phones, email-capable phones, and more are becoming common ingredients in our daily driving.

With our lives becoming busier and busier each day, we try to accomplish more things while driving. Things like shaving, applying make-up, drinking coffee, and eating are becoming common practice while driving.

Or, should they be?

I'm not saying we all have to drive without looking at, or doing, anything else all of the time. If you're driving in conditions that don't require 100% concentration - light traffic, good weather, open road - there is no reason why you can't do a little more than just drive.

In fact, I'm a great believer in the benefits of some of this new portable technology, particularly cell phones. Before using a cell, if I was late for a meeting I would rush to get there. Now, I just phone ahead and explain the problem. Plus, there are many times I've used it for emergency calls.

However, with any of these distractions, I think a little common sense is necessary.

On rainy days in rush-hour I've seen drivers talking on cell phones while drinking coffee. I've heard of drivers who send and receive faxes or read email while driving on the freeway at 60 MPH. I've seen people eating pizza and listening to their stereo at who knows how many decibels.

Who's driving the car? And I'm not talking about just the physical action of driving. I'm talking about the mental side of driving. Driving safely in any condition requires far more concentration than most of us care to admit.

Please, if you're going to do something other than drive, use common sense. Pull to the side of the road to make a call on the cell phone; use hands-free; wait until a traffic light to reach into the back seat to grab something; pull to the side of the road to read your email; eat in the parking lot of the fast-food outlet; keep your stereo at a reasonable volume so you can concentrate on traffic around you; and shave or apply make-up at home.

If you add up all the time you can save by doing these things while driving, and compare them to the time lost with one minor accident caused by it, you'll be convinced immediately. Concentrate on using common sense.

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