Everyone knows the rule of “no texting while driving,” but what many drivers forget or do not realize, is that talking on the phone, checking social media and emails, or even skipping songs on Pandora are distracting as well. NOPUS (National Occupant Protection Use Survey) found that at any given time across the United States, around 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other devices while driving. Another study from VTTI (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute) found that reaching for cell phones, texting and dialing, or other visual-manual tasks increase the risk of getting into a crash or having a near-miss by three times.
Even knowing the risks, many people forget or choose to use their phones still while driving. However, having a cell phone readily available can save lives. Being able to call the police or other emergency responders to report accidents or reckless drivers is a plus, or being able to take an urgent call from a child’s school, the hospital where a loved one is, or receiving notifications about accidents and debris on the road from apps.
We need our phones for nearly everything these days and a lot of our time is spent on the roads going to school, work, vacations, grocery shopping and more. It’s hard to ignore our phones entirely while on the road, but there are some tips that can make driving safer while still allowing us access to our phones, but it is always best and recommended not to use your phone while driving, but instead pull over somewhere safe to use it.
If you need to make a call and can’t stop off the roadway somewhere safe, using speed dial or the redial option on your phone reduces the length of time you have to look at your phone. Setting your phone in easy reach, or using a hands-free option is helpful. Refrain from talking on the phone during rough driving conditions like inclement weather, rush hour traffic, and construction. Waiting until you reach a red light before dialing or answering the phone.
If you use music apps like Pandora or have an iPhone, set your music before you drive and be sure it’s something you’ll want to listen to the length of your trip. Familiarize yourself with the location of the Skip button on your phone so you can skip songs without having to look at your phone.
Another great tip that can be utilized is downloading driving apps on your phone that are geared to helping keep you safe while on the road. For example, there are apps like “Live2Txt” for Android that will block call and text notifications and send a quick message to the send that you are driving and will get back to them soon. The features can be edited to allow certain callers through (like a doctor or teacher calling in regard to a family member). Another great app for available for all phones is “Drivesafe.ly Pro” will read texts and email aloud and responds to them without the touch of a button.
It’s important for drivers to be aware that even simple tasks while driving can be distracting enough to cause accidents, and it’s best to stay off our phones. Life throws us curveballs and we forget to ignore our phones, so investing in apps and practicing safer techniques can keep everyone on the road a little bit safer.