It is important to stay alert at all times – and to act with extreme caution when climbing behind the steering wheel of a vehicle. Not only does the driver have to avoid distractions – but passengers have to ensure that they are not the cause of such distractions. To test your concentration as driver you need to answer the following questions:
- Are you always prepared to avoid a car swerving in front of you?
- How about braking for a pedestrian who suddenly steps into your path?
- Can you steer safely clear of debris falling from a truck?
Types of driver distractions posing a risk to road safety
- Physical distractions
Physical distractions are actions the driver might perform, actions by his passengers or technology in the car – and also distractions outside the vehicle that could divert the attention of the driver away from safely driving the vehicle.
- Mental and emotional distractions
Mental and emotional distractions may cause a driver to be more aggressive and less tolerant to other drivers. He might also become less attentive towards environmental conditions and hazards on the road.Most common distractions Physical distractions:
- Roadside activities such as accidents or vehicles stopped by police/ traffic officers
- Looking around at outdoor advertising, construction sites etc
- Reading maps or newspapers
- Personal grooming such as shaving, applying lipstick or mascara, combing or brushing hair
- Eating or drinking beverages
- Changing clothing
- Looking for lost or fallen items
- Flying insects
- Talking on cellular telephones
- Checking pagers
- Tuning the radio, tape or CD players
- Conversing with adult passengers
- Tending to small children and infants
Mental and emotional distractions:
- Strong emotions of anger and grief
- Driver tiredness/ drowsiness
- Arguments and emotional conversations may lead to further distracting your attention
- Stay focused and alert at all times
- Practise short quick glances and avoid prolonged staring
- Never read whilst driving – rather pull off the road to read
- Do not attempt to change or pull off clothing while driving
- Conduct personal grooming before leaving or after reaching your destination
- Do not allow passengers to interfere with your concentration
- Make sure children and pets are properly restrained before you start driving – and give children items to occupy themselves
- Use pet carriers or portable kennels to restrict the ability of animals to roam around in the vehicle.
- Pull over and stop if small children require attention that could divert your concentration from the road
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving – fumbling with napkins, wrappers and beverages means you’re not watching the road.
- Plan your trip in advance and allow yourself time to stop and have a bit to eat.