10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving

Reaching in the back seat while driving

This month, we talked about avoiding common driving practices that are very dangerous. Here’s a list to all 10 parts plus the supplemental article.

Part 1: Reading While Driving

Part 2: Avoid Texting While Driving

Part 3: Driving with your Knees

Part 4: Driving with Something or Someone in your Lap

Part 5: Driving with Headphones

Part 6: Changing Clothes or Applying Makeup

Part 7: Grabbing Something Out of Reach

Part 8: Eating and Driving

Part 9: Road Raging

Part 10: The Stats

Supplemental: Driving, Teens, and Learning Disabilities — Something You Need to Know

Part 8: Eating and Driving

Eating and Driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Eating some chips or a piece of fruit may not cause an accident for most people as long as retrieving the food does not mean grabbing for something out of reach.  However, if your teen is inexperienced or has a learning disability, the risk of a crash increases almost 3X over those who did not eat.

The distraction could happen when they tip up the bag to get the last chip crumbs.  It might be if sauce drips on their shirt or pants, and their eyes are diverted from the road as they grab a napkin to wipe up the mess.  Moments such as these can be the difference between life and death.

Help your inexperienced driver(s) to drive safely.  Discourage them from eating while driving.

Driving, Teens, and Learning Disabilities — Something You Need to Know

Driving Distractions - texting and driving

Has your teen started driving yet?  Every good parent is concerned when their teen starts driving.

Teaching any child to drive can be a quite an encounter.  When a teen has a learning disability, it can increase the challenge. For example, consider that distraction is the leading cause of crashes among all drivers.  Cell phones ringing.  Interesting happenstance on the side of the road.  Taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds doubles the chance of either being in or near a crash.

For a teen with ADHD, staying focused on the road may be especially hard.  Impulsivity issues increase the risk of an accident.  In some cases, a teen with ADHD may be more likely to speed.  Depending on your teen’s unique combination of challenges, they may be up to four times more likely to be in a crash.  (Thankfully, ADHD medications may significantly reduce the risk.)

Other challenges can include visual and spatial issues that can affect perception of left and right, judging distances or even reading a map.  Executive functioning issues affect your teen’s ability to quickly make decisions to deal with driving circumstances such as a missed exit or a road detour.  Teens with dyspraxia can have a hard time coordinating body movements and hand-eye coordination.

  • Each teen’s challenges are unique to them, so keep these points in mind as you help them learn to drive.
  • Recognize the issues and that they can impact all driving.
  • Be sure their driving instructor knows the unique topics that should be addressed.
  • Recognize that it may take longer for your child to learn to drive, and they may need more practice.

Having the right insurance for your teen driver is very important.  Contact us and one of our agents will be glad to help you find the best insurance for you.

Part 7: Grabbing Something Out of Reach

Reaching in the back seat while driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

You are driving down the road and your stomach grumbles.  “I’ve got a granola bar in my backpack in the back seat.”  You reach back to a pack that is just barely at the tip of your fingers.  If you just turn and reach back a little farther…

That’s bad news.  Several things are happening.

  • Your mind is distracted from driving and what is happening on the road.
  • Turning your body to reach something in the back seat often causes a driver to slightly turn the wheel and drift into another lane.
  • Looking down to get something on the floor takes your eyes away from the road.

The farther out of reach something is, and the more that a person strains to reach it, the greater the risk of a crash.

Choose to drive safely.  Be patient.  Wait until it is safe to pull off the road to retrieve your items.

Part 6: Changing Clothes or Applying Makeup

Doing makeup while driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

There’s an old saying: “It’s a car crash waiting to happen.”  That proverb applies easily when a person is trying to change clothes while driving.  It involves taking your hands off the steering wheel, interrupts your foot’s contact with the brake or gas pedal, and obscures your eyes from seeing the road.  The risk is increased significantly by the chance that you could become entangled by your clothes.

In the same way, applying makeup while driving causes great distraction.  You cannot be focused on your road and surroundings when your eyes are occupied in the mirror to properly apply your makeup. Be patient. Do your makeup beforehand or after you arrive at your destination.

Choose to drive safely.  Change clothes and/or apply makeup either before you leave or after your arrive at your destination.

Part 5: Driving with Headphones

Driving with Headphones

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

There are two ways that we perceive what is happening around us when we drive:  sight and sound.  If you are using headphones when you drive, you eliminate half of your perception!

You might wonder how deaf people drive. Because they are used to being deaf, they are more alert.  On the other hand, a person wanting to listen to “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar isn’t used to not hearing what is happening in her driving environment.  Consequently, he or she will not be as focused.

There are important sounds that you need to hear when you drive.  Roadway sounds let you hear the environment around you.  For example, if you change lanes and someone warns you that they already occupy that space by honking their horn, headphones keep you from hearing the horn.  A crash could happen.

Two other important sounds can be missed when driving with headphones.  Car problems are often found by hearing what is happening in the engine while driving.  In addition, emergency vehicles need you to get out of the way when they are trying to get to an emergency.  Headphones may block out the sound of an approaching emergency vehicle.

Choose to drive safely.  Keep your ears clear so that you can avoid emergencies instead of getting involved in one.

Part 4: Driving with Something or Someone in your Lap

Dog driving a car

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Seeing a car moving down the road with a big dog head leaning out the back window often causes a smile. Unfortunately, it is common for people to drive with their pet or even their child in their lap, and that is unsafe.

For the driver, they are trying to show care and affection as they pet their dog (or other animal).  It is not as common to see a child sitting in their lap, but when it happens you know that the adult probably has good intentions allowing the kid to have the awesome feeling of controlling the vehicle.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

Having something in your lap while driving is a distraction.  We have already discussed distracted driving.  Adding freewill to whatever on your knees greatly increases the risk of something going wrong.  For animals, they can be unpredictable and their sudden movements can cause a crash.  For children, its simply illegal and unsafe to transport a child in a car without an appropriate car seat.

Choose to drive safely. Keep your lap unoccupied and your vehicle occupants safe.

Part 3: Driving with your Knees

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

More people than you may think drive for a few seconds at a time with their knees. Usually, they need both hands for something else for a short period of time.  In one account we read online, a person said they had seen someone actually driving down the freeway reading a newspaper which would require both knees to steer.

While driving with your knees might be convenient, it is very dangerous.  It simply is not possible to react to changes in traffic or even execute proper driving with your knees.

Choose to drive safely. Use your hands instead of your knees.

Part 2: Avoid Texting While Driving

Driving Distractions - texting and driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

In December 2014, two school buses crashed killing two young girls and a teacher’s aide as well as causing injuries for many more riders.  After a six-month investigation, it was determined that the driver was driving while distracted due to sending and receiving texts.

Although this story is tragic, it is not unusual.  98 percent of adults say that they know that texting and driving is unsafe, yet 49 percent of adults admit doing it.

How dangerous is texting and driving?

9 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving distracted driving, such as using a cellphone, texting or eating.

  • There is a 25% chance probability (1 in 4) that a motor vehicle crash involved a cellphone.
  • 40% of teens say they have been a passenger in a car whose driver used a cellphone in a way that put them in danger.
  • 33% of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 report reading or writing text messages while driving in the previous month.
  • 341,000 motor vehicle crashes in 2013 involved texting.
  • Using a cellphone while driving increases the risk of a crash 4X.
  • 2 seconds is the length of time that a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.
  • On average, a driver sending a text takes their eyes off the road for 5 seconds.
  • Texting is banned for all drivers, regardless of age, in 46 states plus Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • A 2012 survey found that the most likely age group to text and drive is 21 – 24 years old.

 

As you can see, texting and driving is a dangerous combination.  Choose to drive safely and be a focused driver rather than texting.

Part 1: Reading While Driving

Reading the gps while driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Most drivers rate their driving safety by how few accidents in which they have been involved.  However, that is not what distinguishes a safe driver from an unsafe one.  In this series, we present 10 dangerous actions that drivers commonly do.  Follow BJI on Facebook and Twitter so you can check out each action and see how safe a driver you are.

Part 1: Reading while Driving

Can you picture a person driving down the highway while reading a big newspaper that blocks their view?  While you might not imagine that a person could be so foolish, consider that people drive and read quite often – and it’s dangerous.  Text messages.  Checking a magazine.  Checking Google Maps.  They all distract you from focusing on the road and just 2 seconds distraction doubles your chance of being in or near a crash.

Avoid reading while driving, and, if you know others who do so, urge them to stop.  If you child(ren) fuss, share statistics to help them understand.  (See our next post: “Texting While Driving”.) If they do not listen, take away the keys.  If you or your children need directions, pull over to start Google maps and use the speaker function instead of looking at the screen.

Choose to drive safely. Drive focused, not distracted.