The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
recently completed research that indicates mental
distraction alone dangerously affects drivers behind the
wheel. The research also shows that hands-free features,
increasingly common in new vehicles, are among the most
distracting. Just because a drivers’ eyes are on the road
and hands are on the wheel doesn’t mean that they’re safely
focused on driving.
Distractions were responsible for vehicle crashes leading to
3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries in 2014, according to the
most recent data provided by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Free Disconnect and Drive bumper magnets are available
at AAA Car Care centers and AAA Travel offices, or make
a request by contacting Traffic Safety.
Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound
systems, and other devices before you leave or
while the vehicle is stopped. Know how your
controls work, so if you must adjust something
on the fly, you’ll be less distracted. Use
presets for radio and climate control, or have
your passenger assist you.
Drive-through windows and giant cup holders make
it tempting to have a meal while driving, but
you’re safer when you stop to eat or drink.
Reducing your risk will be worth the time you
Mobile phones can be a great resource for
getting help or reporting trouble. But, whether
you use a handheld phone or a hands-free device,
talking while driving causes you to take your
mind off the task at hand (and sometimes your
eyes and hands, too). Your best bet is to pull
off the road to a safe spot before you use your
phone to talk or text. Find a safe area away
from traffic. Learn how your phone’s controls
work in case an emergency call while driving is
unavoidable. Practice good habits: Turn your
phone off before you drive, so you won’t be
tempted to answer calls on the road.
Check directions and traffic conditions before
you leave, so you’ll be prepared for your
journey. If you have a GPS, enter your
destination information before departing, and
pull over to a safe place if you need to make
changes or review maps or route guidance. If
possible, use a passenger as your navigator and
assistant. Don’t multitask and drive. Driving is
complicated enough — you’ll become distracted if
you do other things, too. Don’t use the
vehicle’s mirrors for personal grooming when the
vehicle is in motion. Don’t try to read or write
while you’re behind the wheel. Just drive. Pull
over to care for children. Change the baby, feed
the kids, and buckle them into their vehicle
seats before you leave. If you need to attend to
them, pull over in a safe place — don’t try to
handle children while you’re driving.
New drivers face a big challenge behind the
wheel; in fact, the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety reports that for every mile they
drive, teens are four times more likely to be
involved in a crash than other drivers.
Additionally, crash risk increases with the
number of passengers. Parents must model safe
driving behaviors and teach teens to limit
distractions and focus on the road.