April had been designated Distracted Driving Month and we see numerous law enforcement campaigns to fight against all the distracted drivers out there. Texting, talking on the phone, eating, putting on makeup, fighting with your kids or your spouse, drinking coffee, listening to the radio—so many distractions. The NMA believes that distracted driving in all its forms, can best be addressed through efforts to educate the public on its dangers.
Let’s face it—most of us never want to cause a traffic accident or be the cause of one. Drivers need to take responsibility for curbing any tendency they might have driving inattentively. Multitasking while driving may not be the best fit for most of us. We also don’t want to live in a nanny state…so how should we best tackle distracted driving?
Driver Education is Key
Parents need to role model to their children that distracted driving never works. When those kids begin driving they will hopefully remember well the lessons taught them. Driver’s Ed of course is a great place to show what happens when someone drives distracted. A number of programs are out there that go to malls, high schools and work places using simulators and presentations to illustrate this point.
Perhaps instead of investing in “Speed Kills” campaigns and related enforcement excess, the federal and state governments should put more educational and public relation efforts focused on inattentive driving which would be a far more productive use of these funds.
What can you do to Avoid Distracted Driving?
- Turn off your phone while driving. If you have problems doing this, lock your phone in the trunk until your destination or use an airplane type app that locks your phone.
- If you use your phone for GPS or you use a portable GPS, make sure you have a way to secure it on the dash. Program your information before you turn on the car and if you still get lost, stop in a safe place to find your way again.
- If you need to make a phone call, pull over in a safe place. If you keep your phone on, make it a habit to not answer it if it rings nor look at it to see who just texted you until you have pulled over in a safe place or reached your destination.
- If you use your phone for listening to music, an audio book, podcast, or radio make sure your phone is programmed and hit play before you leave.
- Do not video tape a blog, vlog or YouTube video while driving. Do not take photos—especially selfies while you are driving. Very distracting turning the device on and off.
- If you use a dash cam or radar detector while driving, make sure it is working correctly before you leave…don’t fiddle with it when you are driving.
- Leave early and prepare for your trip before you get into your car. Do not apply makeup, brush your hair, clean your teeth, and shave etc. while you drive.
- Do not allow your dog or any other pet on your lap while you drive. Secure them safely in a pet carrier or back seat harness.
- Instruct your children to behave while you are driving. If they have a problem in route, either let them solve it or pull over in a safe area to help them resolve the issue.
- If you are on the road, make time to eat at the restaurant instead of eating while driving. When picking up drive through—take it home or to work and only eat in the car when the car is parked is safe place.
- Role model your behavior to others, especially your own children.
- If you become drowsy, stop at a safe place and get some air or even some coffee.
- If you see another driver driving distracted, keep a close eye on them and try to drive away from them at the earliest convenience.
What Kind of Enforcement Should be used?
Every state and many cities already have some kind of law or ordinance on the books that addresses distracted driving. If the level of distraction reaches a point that the driver is no longer safely and responsibly driving his or her car, they are guilty of distracted driving and any other violation that may result from their inattentiveness.
If you find you are distracted by something important, pull over before a ticket or an accident.
Should Cell Phones be banned while Driving?
A distracted driving law is a distracted driving law. Laws that ban specific actions such as talking on a cell phone or texting on one are unnecessary and counterproductive because they are already covered under an existing law. This is a preemptive law which are pervasive in the US and causes some of us to think that we are living in a nanny state. Most of these pre-emptive laws are put in place for one of two reasons:
- If you make an innocent and harmless act illegal it will eliminate the possibility that this act will lead to another, actually harmful act.
- Ease of enforcement—a blanket ban on cellphone use by drivers is far easier to enforce than regular distracted driving laws but it hurts the bigger issue of inattentive and distracted driving. Easier to write a ticket than to educate on the dangers of driving while distracted.
The NMA opposes this type of politically expedient enforcement practice. Innocent, harmless behavior, in and of itself, should not be illegal.
Here are some helpful resources on combatting distracted driving from www.sr22insurance.net/distracted-driving/.
Learn more about motorists’ rights by joining the National Motorists Association and this important community of drivers across America!