Distracted driving – what you may have missed
We’ve heard so much recently about distracted driving that we’re probably pretty tired about hearing all of the problems associated to doing it. Part of the issue is we keep barking at the same problems. People seem to block out what they’re tired of hearing, so let’s take a different look at this subject for a change. Let’s look at the positive outcome from learning about distracted driving. In other words, what can you gain from hearing of the effects from others?
Part of changing our ways is analyzing what we’re currently doing, look at what’s good about it and what we could do differently about what isn’t so good. When I was a judge on Canada’s Worst Driver, many people would tell me they laughed at what the participants were doing but after watching the show, they realized they were doing the same things. It pretty much stopped them from making those same mistakes. We often need to see ourselves from the outside to know a change is required. Perhaps drivers need to do the same thing each time they hear how distracted driving affected other people.
Are you in the same group of people who say they can multitask while driving? The surprising thing for many people is they forget that driving takes cooperation from everyone on the road and that driving situations change within seconds. Taking your attention away from driving to focus your attention on something else can be riskier than most people realize. Since your brain tells your eyes where to look while driving and then tells your hands and feet what they should do, why take your brain away from the driving task? Distracted driving isn’t just about not having two hands on the steering wheel; it’s about not having your brain and eyes on the driving task.
How comfortable would you be if you were asked to close your eyes for 3 seconds while driving near other road users? What about for 5 to 10 seconds? If you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing those things, why does texting, reaching for food/beverage or looking at your passengers while driving seem so different? They all remove your brain and eyes from the driving environment for the same length of time.
It’s time to put yourself in the shoes of those you hear, see and read about who get distracted while driving. Determine if you do the same things they do. Be honest with yourself. It’s not about whether you get caught or fined or even about being embarrassed. It’s more about surviving on the roads and ensuring your passengers can do the same.
I have a challenge for each of you. For the next few weeks, after you’ve driven, track how often you stayed focused on your driving and ignored a distraction. See how many distractions you were aware of but purposelyignored and how that made you feel. It’s about turning one habit into another habit. One thing to remember, habits are never erased; just changed.