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3 Solutions for Distracted Driving

Road rage, cellphones, and fussy children are all major distractions from driving. Have solutions ready to handle these distractions to avoid an accident and expensive premiums.

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A stressful day at work, children screaming in the backseat, and a constantly ringing cell phone is enough to make any driver want to slam the brakes. Attempting to find hasty solutions to these distractions while on the road can snowball and lead to bigger problems, like an accident. Being able to identify distractions while driving and having reactions prepared to handle them is the most efficient way to combat distracted driving.

1. Road Rage or Driving While Emotional

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting in their vehicle. In such a long span of time, there are plenty of opportunities for situations and emotions to arise. Being alone or in the company of friends and family in the comfort of your own car may seem like a safe space to let loose of your emotions whether you had a stressful day at work, a fight with a significant other, or another driver cut you off on the freeway. However, driving while angry or upset is distracted driving even if you think you’re keeping your focus on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that of all accidents caused by driver error, 33% of these were a direct result of road rage. That amounts to more than 12,500 injuries and 218 deaths over a seven year period. These numbers are increasing steadily by 7% each year.

Drivers with road rage often exhibit similar behaviors that can include speeding, tailgating, weaving lanes, gesturing, honking, yelling, braking suddenly, or flashing their vehicle’s lights. Unfortunately, a staggering 44% of aggressive drivers go as far as attacking other drivers on the road with a deadly weapon such as a gun, knife, or their own car.

How can you tell if you’re an aggressive driver?

Driving can be an aggravating situation for anybody, however road ragers usually have irrational thoughts that project this stress onto innocent bystanders. You may be an aggressive driver if:

  • You think other drivers who cut you off are disrespecting you and therefore take it as a personal insult

  • You believe any bad driver is inferior to you

  • You try to exact revenge on other drivers who you think have insulted you

  • You find you’re angry almost every time you drive

Besides road rage, emotional driving can impair your skills as much as being on your cell phone or having a few drinks. Whether you’re sad, depressed, excited, or frightened, such emotions can slow your reaction time, hinder your observation skills, and cause you to make unsafe movements while on the road.

Solutions to Road Rage and Driving While Emotional

When you can feel yourself getting angry or emotional while driving, remove yourself from the situation. If it’s safe to pull over, do so in order to close your eyes and complete breathing exercise. If you still feel unstable, try finding a place to park where you can take a walk or get a non-alcoholic drink. This will not only give you time to calm down, but also give traffic time to clear. Remember that driving isn’t a competitive sport and it’s always better to be overly polite to others on the road.

On the other hand, if you encounter someone driving while emotional be sure to leave plenty of space between your car and theirs and avoid making eye contact with them. If you feel like you’re in danger, drive to the nearest police station or public area for help.

2. Texting and Driving

Using your cell phone while driving is something that teens are cautioned against time and time again. But, they shouldn’t be the only ones receiving this warning. Nearly 50% of adults have admitted to talking or texting on their cell phone while operating a vehicle. Tech's addictive appeal isn’t exclusive to young age groups. Which is why 23% of accidents in 2011 had involved a cell phone. That percentage is equivalent to 1.3 millions accidents.

Despite the staggering warnings and statistics, 77% of young drivers believe they can drive safely while texting. This belief makes sense when you consider that looking down at your phone only takes about 5 seconds. However, in the span of 5 seconds at 55 mph your car has already traveled the length of a football field. What did you miss in that space? Did the car in front of you brake suddenly? Or did a deer run out into the road directly in front of your car? A lot can happen in 5 seconds.

Solutions to Texting and Driving

The simplest solution to avoid texting and driving is gaining self control. You can put your phone on silent and keep it in a bag in the back seat so that you’re less likely to grab it if it starts to ring. If you have a passenger you’re comfortable with, let them handle your phone operations, like answering texts and picking the next song. If you’re worried that someone might call or text you while you're driving alone and you might be tempted to answer, send those certain individuals a quick text before you start driving to let them know you’re on the road and will get back to them once you reach your destination.

If looking at your phone is too much of a temptation, fight technology with technology. There are many mobile apps available that allow you to drive and use your phone hands free. For example, AT&T Drive Mode can send a reply message and silence your phone. DriveSafe.ly can read your messages out loud while you drive.

3. Driving with Children

Having young children in the backseat of your car, although inevitable for most, can be 12 times more distracting than using your cell phone at the wheel. During a 16 minute trip with their children, Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute found that parents took their eyes off the road for a total of three and a half minutes--that’s almost 22% of the entire trip. Overall, your children are 8 times more distracting than your adult passengers due to the occasional temper tantrums, food fights, arguments with siblings, or hunger...although you could drive with adults who have the same problems.

Parents also typically make the mistake of further taking their attention off the road in an attempt to proactively calm their children. Parents often reposition rear view mirrors in order to keep an eye on the backseat or they pop in a DVD and end up having to fumble with the disc, screens, or volume during the trip.

Solutions to Keep Children Busy While You Drive:

Although it can be difficult and nerve wrecking to ignore your child in the backseat while you’re driving, getting into an accident will definitely be more frightening. If you do feel like you need to turn around in your seat to address your child, it’d be best to find a safe place to pull over and deal with the issue.

Otherwise, you can try a few things to proactively keep your child from becoming fussy during the trip. If your child is old enough to handle their own snacks, pack them manageable foods like jelly beans, dried fruit, or cheese sticks that they can easily grab themselves from the backseat. To keep your child entertained, allow them to prepare a small carry-on bag with some of their favorite activities like crayons, books, or electronic games. Another step you can take before getting into the car is to have your child use the bathroom. That way you won’t have to make any unexpected stops.

Attempting to drive completely distraction free can be nearly impossible when life throws a lot at you at once. Unfortunately, people make mistakes and accidents can happen to anyone. In the event that you follow these tips and still find yourself in an accident, make sure your insurance provider is there for you with excellent customer service and great coverage. Find customized, affordable quotes with top providers at Insurify.com so that you’re prepared.