For many people throughout Canada, driving is a part of daily life. Whether it’s driving to work or cruising to meet a friend, we spend a good portion of our time in our vehicles. While sometimes it may be true that the joy of the journey is enough to keep our attention where it should be, it’s also true that there are plenty of drivers who find themselves becoming distracted – and when their attention wavers, accidents happen.
Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the best ways to fight distracted driving, even if you’re on a long drive or road trip. Plus, we’ll even cover how safe driving can save you money later down the road with your automobile insurance.
The Cost of Distracted Driving
For new drivers or those who have successfully navigated through life so far without an accident, the fuss over distracted driving can seem unnecessary. Surely there’s not much harm in just glancing at your phone, right? The statistics of distracted driving paint a much different and more grim picture.
According to the National Safety Council, using a phone while driving is the cause of 1.6 million accidents every year. You’re 3.6 times more likely to get into an accident while using an electronic device, and in some parts of Canada, distracted driving has caused more fatalities than impaired driving.
We can all agree that distracted driving is dangerous to ourselves and others, but how do you combat the urge to move around or check in on your texts while you’re on the road? We’ve got a few tips handy to help you make the most of your drive – and to do so safely.
Don’t touch your cell phone.
If you take away nothing else from this article, remember this: from the second you set out on the road, your phone needs to be either turned off or placed somewhere you can’t reach it. Some phones even come with this option already built into their operating system, and will automatically silence all notifications while you’re driving. If they don’t, go ahead and put your phone in silent mode before you depart.
If you’re using your cell phone for navigation, make sure you can firmly affix it to the dashboard where you can easily see it, but still, make sure you’ve turned on your phone’s Do Not Disturb function.
Take the time to eat before you leave.
Fumbling with a food wrapper can be just as distracting as a phone call, and if you take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds, there’s a good chance you’ll have to make an emergency decision when you look back up. If you’re hungry, eat before you start driving. If hunger strikes right in the middle of your journey, pull into a parking lot or off the road to enjoy your food.
If you’re feeling tired, pull off the road.
It has happened to everyone at some point during a long road trip. Perhaps it’s the middle of the day, right after you’ve gotten back on the road after a meal, and the rhythm of the tires and the soothing breeze from the windows just make you want to shut your eyes for a minute. Maybe it’s late at night, well past the time you usually turn in for the evening, but you just want to get to the next town or get just a few more kilometres in before you pull off to make camp.
Driving while sleepy is comparable to driving while impaired. Both conditions mean that you can’t respond as quickly as you usually would, and if you fall asleep at the wheel, you might as well have just closed your eyes and taken your hands off the steering. Drowsiness accounts for 21% of Canadian car accidents, so if you’re feeling tired, it’s time to get off the road.
Pull over to a safe area, lock your doors, make sure you’ve left a window or two cracked for airflow, and take a nap. Taking a walk or turning the air conditioner on cold will also help you wake up.
Get comfortable before you leave.
Don’t wait until you’re on the highway to take off your jacket or pull your hair back. Before you start driving, take some time to make sure that you’re comfortable and ready to settle in for however long you expect the trip to take. If you’ve got a tie to fasten or makeup to finish, take the extra minute to do so before you get in the car. If you’re focused on your face in the visor mirror, you’re not paying attention to traffic, and that’s how accidents happen.
The Rewards of Safe Driving
All of this might sound like a lot to keep in mind, but the reward for following safe driving advice on the road can actually be more money in your pocket. When you sign up for automobile insurance (which you’re required by Ontario law to do), you should ask your insurance broker if there’s a safe driving discount and if you’re eligible for it. Different insurance companies will have their own requirements to satisfy that you’re a safe driver, but if you qualify, you could save up to 30% on your premium.