Driving requires your full concentration in order to keep you and your passengers safe. Looking away, even only for a moment, could cause an accident as you could miss something on the road or even veer to the side.
Being distracted when driving is extremely dangerous and is taken very seriously by the police. As an attempt to deter motorists, police in England and Wales have announced that they will be conducting a week long crackdown on motorists who use their mobile phones when driving*.
Despite this, many motorists continue to drive while focusing on something else. Some of the most common driving distractions include:
|With the onset of hands free kits and many newer cars being built with bluetooth, there is no excuse for answering a call when driving. The Department of Transport figures show that 492 accidents in 2014 were caused by mobile phones, 21 of which were fatal**. To avoid temptation, you should invest in a hands free kit or turn your phone off when you are driving.|
|Messaging, or using apps on your phone, is one of the biggest causes for danger on the road. Sending a message takes at least five seconds and taking your attention away from the road for this long is highly dangerous. As well as being a threat to your safety, using a hand held mobile phone is illegal and can result in 3 penalty points and a fine of £100, although under new legislation coming in to force in 2017, you could be punished by 6 points and a £200 fine**.|
|Changing the radio station or flicking through a music app on your phone can take your attention away from the road and cause you to lose control of your vehicle. In addition, loud music can be distracting for drivers and research has shown that loud music can delay reactions by 20%, which is long enough to cause an accident***.|
|Eating takes attention and so if you eat when driving your full attention will not be on the road. A study by Goodyear has shown that as many as 48% ‘near misses’ amongst young drivers were caused when the driver was eating****. Eating behind the wheel can even be punishable by law, as some hungry motorists have found themselves charged with driving without due care and attention.|
|Smoking when driving can be highly dangerous, as motorists will only have one hand available to steer with and reactions will be delayed. In addition, lighting a cigarette or disposing of ashes take a drivers eyes from the road for a number of seconds. In addition, smoking in cars with a person under 18 or in a company car is illegal and punishable by a fine.|
Whilst you may keep your hands on the wheel, daydreaming or switching off when driving is one of the most dangerous distractions. When you are lost in thought, your actions become automatic and it will take you longer to react to anything unexpected.