Motoring News

Eyes on the road! Avoid distracted driving

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – April is recognised in the USA as ‘Distracted Driving Awareness Month’ though such road habits in the USA are actually globally endemic and can mainly be attributed to texting while driving.

The month can be traced back to Shelley Forney who began to advocate safer driving after her daughter Erica (9) was, in November 2008, struck by an SUV while she was riding home on a bicycle.

The driver was texting…

It’s said that a driver receiving a text takes eyes off the road for about five seconds. If the vehicle is moving at 80km/h it will in that time cover the same distance as a soccer field and fact is that texting is more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.

Such driving behaviour, however, goes beyond that… READ ON, IT COULD SAVE A LIFE…

However, distracted driving extends beyond texting. There are, The Corner was told,four types of distracted driving.

Visual – taking your eyes off the road, to text or, for example, to adjust your radio.

Manual – taking your hands off the steering-wheel. Some people eat, do their makeup, shave, or even clean their teeth while driving!

Auditory – hearing something not related to driving, such as a car radio so loud that it bounces the car down the road.

Cognitive – thinking about something other than driving, perhaps daydreaming about your next holiday.

The dangers are obvious: you’re not focussed on driving and that could lead to a crash, with damage, injury – even death. Yes, you’re putting your and the lives of others at risk – yet other dangers lurk through distracted drivers missing critical events that most people don’t think about.

You might think “oh, but I only look at my phone at red lights” so not actually driving. Think again, The Corner was told… criminals rely on your distraction to strike. Picking up a phone while stopped makes you a target for a smash-and-grab attack – which can happen in a car park or during a fuel stop.

“Plus, your car does not have to be stationary to become a target,” The Corner was told. “Videos circulated on social media show smash-‘n-grabs in slow traffic.”

So, what to do? Here’s some free, but important, advice…

AVOID PICKING UP YOUR PHONE: If an emergency, ask your passenger to answer or text. Using hands-free isn’t any safer – it takes your thoughts away from driving and your surroundings. Put the phone out of reach while you drive if you tend to reach for it.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS: You’ll spot a car, bike, or pedestrian about to swerve or step out into your lane – and looking alert could deter grabber

SET YOUR SATNAV BEFORE DRIVING OFF: …and adjust aircon and radio channel before moving. For example, if something drops to the cabin floor leave it there until later unless it could affect pedal pressures – instead, pull over when safe to do so and secure it.

KEEP YOUR HANDS ON THE STEERING-WHEEL: Eat, drink, or attend to personal grooming before your trip. Remove clothing that might become uncomfortable – a jacket, perhaps? – before you get into the car.

MAKE SURE EVERYBODY – ESPECIALLY CHILDREN – ARE SECURE: Limit physical activity to reduce distractions. Save an intense conversation for later.

LIMIT RADIO VOLUME: How else will you hear an emergency siren? Also, avoid rubber-necking: it could distract you enough to avoid an accident.

“Rather be safe than sorry,” says Duma Ngcobo, chief operating officer at Tracker. “Be aware of your surroundings so you can get out of the way – or evade an assault.”

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