You know that moment when your phone buzzes while you’re sitting at a stoplight and you feel the urge to check it? It can be hard to resist, but it’s important to leave your phone alone! Things like checking your phone or adjusting the volume of the radio are common causes of accidents. We’ve put together some information about ways to avoid these and other common distractions while tackling some distracted driving myths!
Distractions and driving: a deadly combination
The consequences of distracted driving can go beyond a fine and demerit points. Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Texting; talking on a cell phone; using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger you, your passengers, and others on the road.
Here are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off driving
Distracted driving myths
Now that you’re aware of the different types of distractions while on the road, let’s go over some of the common myths about distracted driving.
Multi-tasking is a talent
Studies have shown that effective multi-tasking isn’t really possible. Whether you’re trying to watch TV and do homework or trying to drive and text, the brain can’t actually multitask. It can go from one task to another with lightning speed, but while you’re doing one thing, like eating, you’re not focusing on the other (the most important one: driving). Your reaction time is slower, which can be dangerous when controlling a two-ton hunk of plastic and metal.
Multitasking isn’t a big deal when you’re doing the dishes and watching Netflix – the worse that could happen is you break a dish. But when you’re behind the wheel, the results could be much worse. When driving, focus on the driving and let everything else wait until later.
Voice-to-text is okay while driving
Voice-to-text might seem a slightly better option than texting outright while driving, but studies suggest it distracts the driver more than regular texting. Even talking a text takes part of your attention away from driving (it’s that inability to multitask thing). Plus, people tend to look at their texts before sending them because voice-to-text is unreliable in its inaccuracy—saying “dirty shoe” instead of “love you” might cause confusion.
As long as you can see while driving, you don’t need to hear
You might think that if your eyes are on the road, your ears can be on a phone call, but you’re wrong. Research shows that when you’re talking to someone else — whether or not it’s through the phone or in the same car — you experience inattention blindness. Basically, you see but don’t process the world around you. When you’re driving, this can be a costly mistake.
Talking on the phone or to a passenger is the same thing
While being distracted by talking can be detrimental, at least a passenger can help you watch the road. On the other hand, if your friend is on their phone while you’re driving they might not be much help.
However, drivers who are talking to adult passengers in their car have an extra set of eyes and ears to help alert to any oncoming traffic issues. Oftentimes when an adult passenger sees that the driver is concentrating on making a left turn, they become quiet and wait for a better opportunity to continue the conversation.
Phone use at traffic stops has no negative repercussions
Even though you’re stopped and can take your concentration off driving for a moment to send or read a text, your concentration is compromised for the next 27 seconds thinking about what you just read or sent. Usually that half a minute is long enough for you to be driving distracted again.
If You’re texting while driving, do it low so nobody can see
While you shouldn’t text while driving in any way, doing it below the steering wheel is even worse, because you’re cutting off your peripheral vision. The police might not see you texting, but you can’t see anyone else.
Preventing distracted driving
What drivers can do
Use apps that prevent texting and driving – there are several free apps you can download to your smartphone that will help you combat distracted driving. Apps such as, DriveSafe.ly offer different options and features that will assist you in leaving your phone alone while driving.
The simplest option is to either turn your phone off or turn your notifications and ringer to silent and then put your phone either on the back seat or in the glove box. Before you get into your vehicle, record a message stating that you are in the car and will not be able to use your phone until you arrive at your destination.
Before you start driving, attend to everything that could distract you, i.e. set your GPS, eat prior and put on your driving playlist. Do not multitask while driving. Whether it’s adjusting your mirrors, picking the music, eating a sandwich, making a phone call, or reading an email―do it before or after your trip, not during.
What passengers can do
- Speak up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver. Ask the driver to focus on driving.
- Reduce distractions for the driver by assisting with navigation or other tasks.
What parents can do
- Talk to your teen or young adult about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving. Share stories and statistics related to teen/young adult drivers and distracted driving.
- Remind them driving is a skill that requires the driver’s full attention.
- Emphasize that texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at a destination.
Other safety measures
- Familiarize yourself with your province’s graduated driver licensing system and enforce its guidelines for your teen.
- Know your province’s laws on distracted driving. Many provinces have novice driver provisions in their distracted driving laws. Talk with your teen about the consequences of distracted driving and make yourself and your teen aware of your province’s penalties for talking or texting while driving.
Extra protection from distracted driving accidents
Even if you do everything right, accidents happen. That’s what insurance is for. Protect yourself, your vehicle, your passengers and everyone else on the road with the right insurance plan.
Contact BrokerLink today to learn more about what insurance plan makes sense for you. It’s easy to get in touch with us:
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FAQs for myths about distracted driving
What are the common penalties for distracted driving?
If you are caught distracted driving, you could face significant fines, demerit points and a suspended license. The exact penalties depend on what province you’re in.
Are there exemptions in distracted driving laws?
Emergency personnel are exempt from the distracted driving law while in the execution of their duties. This includes, but is not limited to taxis, couriers, pilot vehicles and search and rescue.
How do I make an emergency call while driving?
The only time you're allowed to use your phone while driving is to call 911 in an emergency. If it is safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road to make the emergency call to 911.