Sometimes driving can feel routine, but you can never be prepared for all the twists and turns while you’re behind the wheel. By staying focused and distraction free, you could avoid problems on the road.
Distracted driving is a contributing cause of 10% of fatal accidents and 30% of total accidents.
If you are driving at 55 mph and take your eyes off the road, in a span of 3-4 seconds you have traveled the length of a football field.
Cell phone use while driving can cause major distractions for drivers, even those phones which are “hands free”. The mental distraction of talking impairs a driver’s ability to make decisions about driving, and it makes you four times more likely to be in a crash.
The reaction time of those who text message while driving decreases by 35%, making it much more difficult to avoid a crash.
Texters are much more prone to drift out of their lane - steering control is 91% poorer than that of attentive drivers.
If you must use a cell phone:
- Keep both hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road; remember that safe driving is the priority.
- Assess the current traffic situation before making or receiving any calls. Do not answer or dial the phone when driving in hazardous conditions.
- Pull over to the side of the road before beginning a cell phone conversation, or wait until you reach your destination. The safest time to use a cell phone while driving is when stopped.
- Become familiar with how to use the phone. Read the manual and know how to use the available features.
- NEVER send text messages while your car is in motion. Texting while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving!
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes annually (about 1.5% of all crashes) involve drowsiness or fatigue as a principal causal factor.
Being awake for 18 hours is the equivalent of having a BAC of .08 (the legal limit of intoxication) and leaves you at an equal risk for a crash. The chances of being in a sleep-related crash are greatest for those who are driving just 1 or 2 hours.
Simply put, drowsy driving is operating a vehicle in a physical state in which the driver's alertness is considerably lower than it would be if the driver were “well rested” and “fully awake.” This can include not paying attention while driving due to fatigue or lack of sleep or even falling asleep behind the wheel.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
How to stay alert while driving
- Can’t remember the last few miles driven
- Drift from lanes or hit a rumble strip
- Yawn repeatedly
- Accidentally tailgate or miss traffic signs
- Have wandering or disconnected thoughts
- Difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
- Have trouble keeping your head up
- Try to get enough sleep every day. If you do stay up late, take an afternoon nap. If you feel drowsy while driving, you may not be getting adequate sleep.
Caffeine: Avoid caffeine during the last half of your day as it can contribute to sleep problems. You can gain short-term alertness by drinking coffee or other sources of caffeine if driving, but it usually takes 30 minutes to take effect, wears off after a few hours, and is less effective for those who consume caffeine regularly.
- You should stop at least every 100 miles or 2 hours. Switch drivers if you can.
Plan ahead for long trips
- If you have been drinking, please don’t drive! In addition to being illegal, alcohol makes you sleepy and amplifies your fatigue. Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of a crash.
- If possible, get a good night’s sleep the night before. Avoid driving during the body’s “down time”. According to AAA, this is generally in the mid-afternoon and between midnight and 6:00am.