For many of us, driving is such a common part of our everyday routine, that it’s become mostly a mindless task. We might commute to work, pick up the kids from school, or drive long stretches on road trips without giving the actual task of driving much thought. But the truth is, going on “autopilot” is incredibly dangerous.
Every time you get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or SUV, you are responsible for controlling a large, multi-ton vehicle. Even at relatively low speeds, this is a huge responsibility. Your life, the lives of your passengers, and the lives of others on the road are, almost literally, in your hands.
So how can you make sure you’re being the safest, most focused driver you can be?
One way is to make sure you are always concentrating on the road. This means eliminating distractions, avoiding daydreaming, and paying attention to various traffic patterns, signs, and other conditions. Here, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips for improving your concentration while driving. Put these into practice the next time you get behind the wheel and, eventually, they’ll become as automatic as driving itself.
Distracted driving is one of the most prevalent and most dangerous problems on our roads today. Drivers who are distracted by cell phones, navigational systems, vehicle controls, passengers, pets, or other things inside and outside of their cars are simply not giving the task of driving the careful, focused attention it deserves. The best way to ensure you don’t fall into this pattern? Get rid of distractions!
Here are a few ideas to help eliminate driving distractions:
- Put your cell phone on silent (or even turn it off!) and put it somewhere out of sight and out of reach, like the glove compartment, a purse, or in the backseat. This will help make you less tempted to reach for it at the next red light or respond to a text when you hear your ringtone.
- Hate the idea of leaving people on “read” or waiting for your reply? Set up your phone’s “do not disturb” mode to send an automatic reply to any text you receive while driving. This lets the other person know you’re on the road and will get back to them as soon as you safely can.
- Stay away from social media! Many people feel like it’s okay to quickly check Twitter or snap a pic for Instagram on the road or while waiting at a red light, but this simply isn’t true. When you’re driving, remember that social media can always wait.
- Make sure you know where you’re going before you get in the car. If you’re using a GPS or navigational device, plug in your destination before you put your car into drive. Even better, preview the directions so you have an idea of where you need to go.
- Set up your music, podcast, or whatever you like to listen to before you start driving. When you’re focused on changing the radio station or looking for a new playlist on Spotify, you’re not focused on the road. Make sure you choose your music before you drive.
- Make sure your kids and/or your pets are safely buckled in car seats, boosters, seatbelts, harnesses, or crates. If your kids tend to get bored on long (or short!) drives, set them up with books, toys, or other entertainment options before you start driving.
- Finish your morning routine before you start your commute. Drinking coffee, eating breakfast, applying makeup, grooming, and even getting dressed are among the most common driving distractions; make sure you’re ready for the day before you head out.
By taking preventative measures to avoid distracted driving, you can improve your concentration behind the wheel and keep our roads safer.
Stop Daydreaming While Driving
One of the most common types of distracted driving is also the most difficult to notice: daydreaming. Thinking about other things—a conversation with your spouse, a problem at work, what you’re going to pick up from the grocery store—can be just as dangerous as any other type of driving distraction, even when your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel. This is because your reaction times are significantly impaired when your mind is somewhere else.
Avoiding daydreaming while driving can be difficult, but practice helps. Try to stay mindful as you drive; notice the vehicles around you and in front of you, pay attention to traffic patterns and road signs, and keep a sharp eye out for potential hazards. It also helps to avoid listening to loud music, audiobooks, or podcasts, all of which can take your mind away from the task of driving.
If you struggle to stay focused while driving, it doesn’t hurt to consider taking a defensive driving course. These courses can help refresh your driving skills and provide practical tips for keeping your mind and awareness on the road.
Along with distracted driving, drowsy driving is a common danger on our roadways. In fact, some studies have even found that fatigued driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You should only drive if you feel awake and alert. If you are tired and can wait, don’t get behind the wheel. If you must drive, you can help improve your alertness by drinking coffee (or another caffeinated drink of your choice). Just make sure you do this before you get in the car, as eating or drinking behind the wheel can be just as dangerous as driving while tired.
You can also stay alert by listening to upbeat music, turning up the AC, or rolling down the window. However, while these things may help for a short period of time, they are NOT a substitute for rest. If you feel too tired to drive, pull over as soon as possible, find a safe area (such as a well-lit parking lot), lock your doors and windows, and take a nap. If you cannot find a safe place to rest in your vehicle, consider finding a nearby hotel where you can sleep until you are rested enough to drive.
Remember, when it comes to driving, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Were you injured in an accident with a negligent driver? Contact Dunk Law Firm to speak to one of our car accident attorneys today during a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.