How You Can Prevent Distracted Driving

Need an Attorney right now? You've come to the right place.
By Marcus Fernandez

A nationwide study of driver behaviors ranked Florida as the second-worst state in the country for distracted driving. The most recently released statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that more than 56,000 crashes on state roads in 2019 were caused by driver distraction with almost 4,300 of those crashes occurring in Hillsborough County. Working to prevent distracted driving is something we should all take seriously.

You may think of yourself as a safe driver who avoids distractions by never talking or texting on your cellphone while behind the wheel, but have you ever taken your eyes off the road to correct misbehaving children in the back seat? It only took a few seconds, but your car that was traveling at 55 mph covered a distance of about 100 yards while your eyes and attention were not focused on the road.

Any activity that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction that could cause an accident. What better time to learn a few ways to prevent distracted driving and become a safer driver than Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Make the focus of attention on the road and maintaining control of your vehicle

Do not buy into the myth of multitasking. When performing multiple tasks at the same time, you may believe your brain is handling all of them at the same time. The truth is that the brain has limited cognitive, or attention, capacity. What you perceive as the brain handling all of the tasks at the same time is actually a rapid switching back and forth from one task to another, which may impair your ability to react in the event of an emergency.

For example, engaging in a conversation on a cellphone, even one equipped with a hands-free device, forces your brain to switch back and forth between the conversation and processing the information sent to it by your eyes. Research shows that you miss up to 50% of what is taking place within your field of vision when attempting to multitask.

Save the cellphone for emergencies

It is against the law in Florida to use a hand-held cellphone for talking or texting while driving. The only exception is to report an emergency situation or criminal activity to the police. The best practice is to pull over and stop before making the call.

As previously mentioned, researchers found that the use of hands-free devices when making calls or texting contributes to driver distraction. Avoid an accident or a fine by putting your phone away while driving. That way you’re not tempted to check it when someone calls or sends you a text message.

If the thought of friends or family members worrying about your wellbeing when you do not answer their calls bothers you, relax because your cellphone may have an option to avoid the problem. The voicemail of your cellphone may allow you to set it to automatically respond with a message letting callers know that you are driving and cannot take their call.

Limit conversations within the car while driving

Talking to passengers is a distraction, so limit conversation while driving. Parents can reduce the risk of distraction for teenage drivers by limiting the number of passengers allowed in their car.

Do not eat while driving

A busy schedule can make it difficult to find the time to eat. Avoid the temptation to grab something to eat from the drive-in window of a fast-food restaurant. Eating while driving may save time, but it distracts from the primary task of being an attentive, safe driver. Drinking a beverage while driving is not much better particularly when a spill occurs. If you are hungry, pull over and enjoy what you eat and drink without letting it impair your driving ability.

Pull over and rest when you feel tired or drowsy

Avoiding driving while tired or drowsy may not seem to be a way of preventing distracted driving but feeling tired impairs judgment and reflexes to make it difficult to quickly respond to emergencies while driving. If you feel tired, either ask someone riding with you to drive while you rest or find someplace to pull over and rest.

Adjust lights, seats and controls before you start driving

When you first get in the car, take a moment before pulling away to make adjustments to the following: 

  • Seats. 
  • Mirrors. 
  • GPS. 
  • Heat and air conditioning. 
  • Radio or sound system. 

If it becomes necessary to adjust controls after beginning your trip, pull over to a safe location to do so.

When traveling with young children, make sure they are securely seated before getting underway. Provide them with books or games to keep them occupied and quiet on longer trips.

If the family pet will be accompanying you on the ride, make certain it cannot interfere with concentration. The last thing you need is your dog jumping on your lap as you attempt to maintain control.

Tampa personal injury lawyer can help

Taking steps to prevent distracted driving will make you a safer driver and reduce the risk of an accident. If, in spite of your efforts, you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation. Learn more about your options against a negligent driver by arranging a consultation with a Tampa personal injury attorney. Call to speak to an experienced Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire Lawyer or fill out this form to get a free case evaluation.