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Safe driving tips to reduce distracted driving

We know that driving requires our full attention, but it’s easy to get distracted. Distracted driving affects our focus as we operate a motor vehicle. A distraction can cause us to take our eyes off the road, our hands off the steering wheel, or our minds off our driving. Since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, now’s the ideal time to explore safe driving tips that protect everyone on the road.
Reduce distracted driving before you leave
Safe driving starts with several precautions before you slide behind the wheel.

  • Get enough rest. Drive only when you’re rested and most likely to remain alert. Like drunk driving, drowsy driving can reduce reaction time, slow reflexes, and impair judgment.

  • Leave extra time. Give yourself an adequate time margin to arrive alive even if you face unexpected delays. You’re more likely to feel stressed and take risks if you feel pressure to reach your destination on time.

  • Plan your route. Program your GPS, check traffic conditions, and review the route and directions on the map before your trip. You may also look at a street view picture to better visualize your destination. Fussing with your GPS while you drive reduces your attentiveness to the road.

  • Prepare for your day. Apply makeup or shave, read email, eat breakfast, and drink coffee before leaving home. Grooming, reading, or other multitasking behind the wheel is unwise.

  • Secure children, pets, and gear. Any time you remove your hands from the wheel, you could lose control of your car. That’s why you want to buckle kids into a car seat or seat belt and use a harness or crate for your furry friends. Reduce clutter, too, since unsecured objects can easily roll, fall, or shift and draw your attention off the road.

  • Set the controls. Prepare your vehicle so you’re comfortable and set for the journey. Adjust the seats, mirrors, climate controls, and playlist before you put the vehicle in gear.

  • Turn off your phone. No phone call, text message, social media post, or notification is worth an accident. Even hands-free technology can steal your full attention and distract you from seeing signs or noticing hazards.

Reduce distracted driving on the road
Once you begin your drive, follow these safe driving tips and keep your focus on the road where it belongs.

  • Scan the road. Sure, a colourful billboard or interesting landmark can capture your attention, but your focus should remain on the road. Scan your mirrors every few seconds, and look ahead as you notice road signs, pedestrians, cyclists, and potential hazards or obstructions.

  • Give yourself permission to pull over. Even if you’re an experienced driver, it only takes a second of distraction to cause an accident potentially. Find a parking lot or other safe spot and pull over if you need to take a phone call, retrieve a dropped item, eat, or check your GPS. Pull over if the weather gets bad, too.

  • Take breaks. To boost your focus, manage drowsiness and target your attention, schedule frequent breaks into your schedule, especially if you’re on a long road trip. Take a walk, stretch, and play with your pets or kids.

  • Turn down the radio. Music, talk shows and podcasts provide entertainment but can distract your mind. Select entertainment and a volume level that supports safe driving.

  • Choose light chatter. Now’s not the time to start a debate or heated conversation that can distract your mind or elevate your emotions. Instead, engage in light conversation and pay attention to the road.

Reduce distracted driving as you ride
Even if you’re not behind the wheel, you can take action to reduce distracted driving.

  • Manage the GPS. Take over navigation duties so your driver can focus on the wheel.

  • Scan the road. While you don’t want to become a passenger seat driver, notice potential distractions, hazards or obstacles, and alert the driver of any danger.

  • Reduce distractions. Settle energetic kids and pets, turn down the music and choose light conversation topics as you help the driver stay focused.

  • Insist on safe driving. Only ride with drivers committed to following the rules of the road. Offer to take over driving duties or suggest a break if the driver becomes distracted.

Distracted driving is hazardous for drivers, passengers, and others on the road. Implement these safe driving tips to protect everyone as you travel. If you’re shopping for car insurance, contact an OTIP broker at 1-833-615-9326 for a free quote. Or, if you’re a current OTIP policyholder, call 1-833-494-0089 to review your policy and inquire about your coverage options.

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