The 10 most dangerous things you can do while you are driving
It is in human nature to want to master things and make them seem like something natural. We have done just that with driving. Driving today means being in control of a metal sculpture that is capable of great speeds and power. This is something that was not part of human nature, not even 100 years ago. We adapted quickly and driving is now a part of us, of our culture. But just like with everything, becoming too comfortable might bring about some unwanted surprises.
Driving requires a whole person
This sub-title might seem confusing but driving really does require your full physical and mental presence. In order to react to what is happening on the road, your brain needs to pay active attention. If not, you might miss that 0,1 of a second that is crucial in preventing an accident.
Research has shown that driving activates all areas of our brain and selectively activates different brain areas during different driving maneuvers. But one thing is certain, no matter how good of a driver you consider yourself to be, complete attention to the road is needed. There is no space in the brain for texting. Trust us. Here are 10 things you should not be doing when driving.
Calling, texting, snapchatting, posting stories, etc.
Let us start with the most common and obvious. Leave your smartphone alone when driving. No excuses. Writing messages and reading messages does two things: it takes your eyes off the road and at least one hand of the wheel. Both are a recipe for disaster when rolling down a road at 60 mp/h. Learn to ignore messages when driving, nothing is more important than your safety and the safety of others.
If you have trouble staying off your phone when driving, take more breaks, stop by the road and reply to urgent messages. Don’t forget to use some sort of hands-free device to make phone calls safely (be aware that even hands-free phone calls take away your full attention, so be careful).
Getting ready and eating
Women are guilty of finishing up their make-up while men tend to be guilty of enjoying a full meal while driving. Both are bad ideas. Even something as innocent as a gas station sandwich can cause a major accident on the road. While you keep yourself busy brushing the bread crumbs from your lap, your attention to the road has sunk. And that moment can be crucial. The same goes for finishing up your daily look in the rear-view mirror ladies.
Take the time to finish your sandwich at the gas station and wake up 5 minutes earlier to perfect your looks. It can literally save lives or at least save you from a fender bender.
Grabbing something just out of reach
“Let me just grab that bottle of water in the passenger’s door compartment.” NO! Stop the car, fetch the bottle and continue driving. It really is that simple. You would be surprised by the time it takes to just “fetch” something out of reach. Those seconds can make you miss crucial moments on the road.
Not using turn signals
Cars have turn signals for a good reason. They indicate our intentions on the road. When you fail to use them, people don’t know where you are going and this equation ends with bent steel or even worse. Use your turn signals when needed, make it a conscious habit if you are having troubles. Don’t use them too early or too often either!
Driving with a child or a pet on your lap
Small dogs or even children can seem rather innocent on your lap while driving. But they are strong enough to move the wheel or make a sudden movement that makes you move the wheel or simply lose attention. If nothing else, just think of what happens to something in your lap in a case of an accident. This behavior is not as uncommon as you might think. Your kids and pets can take a ride on your lap only in your driveway, public roads require your full attention!
Driving with headphones
This is a habit that might seem innocent but is far from it. In order to react in time, you need both sight and sound. The use of headphones is more common with drivers who unfortunately don’t have a great media and sound system or a hands-free calling option. Deafening yourself with loud music or headphones is never a good idea when driving. Safety comes first, music can wait.
Driving over the speed limit or below the speed limit
We believe in active road participation and defensive driving. This means that there is nothing wrong with surpassing the speed limit (not by much and not for long) in order to resolve a troubling situation on the road. But just like speeding, driving below the speed limit can cause just as much trouble. This is most commonly seen by drivers who drive below the speed limit on the fast lane. This provokes other drivers to shorten their safety distance or to overtake you on the right.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
This should not even be on the list in 2021 but it sadly is. Drug use and even a pint after work do not belong on the road. Even small amounts of alcohol prolong your reaction times and influence your attention. Don’t drink and drive, please.
Driving loads that aren’t properly fixated
Whether you are loading up your bikes on the roof or bringing home building materials from the shop, make sure they are fixated properly. Tie them down, lock them up, do whatever it takes to keep them in your car or trailer. Flying loads can cause havoc on the roads and they put people’s lives in danger.
Stopping to watch car accidents
Ah yes, the one that does not get the attention it deserves. People who stop or slow down to watch the accident on the other side of the road are unknowingly becoming the reason for many accidents each year. Sudden stops or breaking can cause big pile ups and can cost you your life. It is not worth it.
Snap out of it
The lesson is really simple, don’t do anything that might take away from your full attention to the road. If you find yourself wandering away in your head and losing attention, make sure to take more breaks. Driving is an intense activity for our brain and our modern shortened attention spans. Make positive habits that increase your road awareness and remember; there is nothing more important than reaching your destination safely.