The Guide to Distraction Free Driving
We hear a great deal about drinking and driving as a preventable cause of accidents in Arizona, but we don’t hear nearly as much about distracted driving. In Arizona, it’s estimated that up to 80% of all accidents are caused by distracted driving. That’s eight out of ten accidents! Arizona mechanics state that mechanical failure is responsible for only a small percentage of accidents.
We are beginning to hear a lot about the dangers of texting while driving, which is one of the highest risk driving distractions. Texting while driving can make the risk of an Arizona vehicle accident approximately 25 times higher than that of a non-distracted driver. The problem isn’t with texting alone. Simply turning on and or dialing a cell phone can triple your accident risk. Although using a hands-free system is safer than trying to dial, simply talking on a cell phone is distracting enough to increase the risk of an accident. The safest bet is to pull over to use the phone.
Possibly the second most common distraction is eating while driving, something approximately 70% of us are guilty of. Looking through bags, unwrapping food, checking if you have the correct sandwich, balancing your drink, feeling for the cup holder, and of course the inevitable spill, are all distractions that can take your eyes off of the road. It’s much safer to wait until you get home to eat.
A major distraction that you don’t hear much about is sleepy driving. Driving while sleep deprived can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Falling asleep at the wheel is the most obvious danger, but even if you manage to stay awake, fatigue will slow your reaction time, make you less attentive, and impair your judgment. Often drivers are unaware of how tired they are becoming. If you find yourself yawning frequently or beginning to drift from your lane these could be warning signs. In addition, if you feel like the highway is beginning to have a hypnotizing effect, or you hit one of those noise strips on the outside of the lane, it’s time to pull over. Those strips are put there for the sole purpose of awakening a sleeping driver before they run any farther off the road.
Some less obvious distractions can be taking your eyes off the road to look at the scenery, or to check out an accident as you drive by. Tuning your radio or looking for a CD can also momentarily take your eyes off the road. Certainly looking for the baby’s lost pacifier or dealing with misbehaving children in the back seat will distract you. Even if you manage not to take your eyes off the road and only feel for the pacifier, CD, etc. you will be mentally distracted. Sudden noises, such as driving through a construction site, are equally distracting.
Some other things people attempt to do while driving include putting on makeup and reading. Obviously, you have to take your eyes off the road, at least momentarily, to accomplish either of these. Even if it’s driving directions you’re reading, you need to pull over to do it.
Although all of these distractions are responsible for many, many accidents, they take the biggest toll on teenage drivers. Teenagers feel invincible, and tend to ignore their lack of driving experience. They are much less likely to be able to anticipate the need to slow down for a sharp curve or an animal in the road. Add tuning the radio and using a cell phone and you have a recipe for disaster.
The state of Arizona is considering the passage of a bill to outlaw texting and driving. Although the law is not yet statewide some cities such as Flagstaff, Tucson, and Phoenix have already outlawed texting and driving. Unfortunately, you can’t legislate common sense. There are no laws against eating and driving or handing your baby a toy. You really should ask yourself, “is it worth my life or the life of another person”?
The team of highly experienced Scottsdale mechanics and technicians at Scottsdale Muffler and Automotive would like to take a minute to ask you to consider pulling over, rather than driving while distracted. Since it’s proven to cause eight out of ten car accidents, doesn’t it make sense to just avoid the danger?
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Tempe, AZ 85281
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