Distracted Driving: How to Stay Tuned In When Tired
Distracted driving caused 9% of fatal car crashes in the past 7 years. To protect ourselves, our passengers, and other drivers on the road, it is imperative that we pay attention behind the wheel. Unfortunately, driving in and around airports can be full of distractions, making avoiding distractions especially difficult.
Adding more room for error, drivers at the airports are prone to impaired judgment. From in-flight drink tickets to extra-long international flights, there are plenty of ways for your ability to drive safely to be compromised once you've touched down and made it back to your car.
Here’s what to keep in mind when you get behind the wheel after a long day of travel.
Near-Airport Driving Distractions
You can best learn how to prevent distracted driving when you have a foundational understanding of the most dangerous distractions. According to the CDC, the three main types of driving distractions are visual, manual, and cognitive. So, what does this mean for you?
- Visual: You need to keep your eyes on the road.
- Manual: You need to keep your hands on the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: You need to keep your mind on the task at hand: driving.
At all times, watch the road, hold the wheel, and pay attention to your surroundings. It sounds easy, right? Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean that you couldn’t use some reminders and helpful tips.
Near airports, driving involves other cars, pedestrians, terminal signs, entries, and exits. These distractions create the perfect storm for accidents. Fortunately, there are tips and tools that will help you maintain defensive driving and safety on the road when you arrive home after a flight.
1. Send Texts Before You Start Your Engine
Cell phones are notorious for distracting drivers. Not only can texting and talking on the phone behind the wheel lead to an accident -- in many states, you can get a hefty ticket if you’re caught with your hands on your phone. So, make calls and send texts before you drive. Then, put your phone away and silence it for the duration of the drive.
2. Use Hands-Free Phone Technology
If you need to use GPS or answer a call during the drive, make sure you have the tech to listen to directions or the person on the other end of the line over your car stereo. Even if you have an older car, you can get an inexpensive device that connects your phone to your car radio via Bluetooth.
3. Pull Over if You Need to Change GPS Directions
Sometimes, plans change. It’s normal. But, that doesn’t mean that you need to type your new destination into your map when you’re stopped at a red light. Instead, it only takes a few minutes to pull over when you need to make a change. Once you’re parked in a safe place, then add a new address into your GPS.
4. Never Eat While Driving
How many times have you stopped off for fast food after a long flight? If you’re like most people, you’ve done this more than once. That said, it’s best to avoid dipping your fries while you're driving at high speeds on the interstate. Park while you eat. Not only is this safer, it’s also less messy.
5. Avoid Reaching for Fallen Items
Sometimes items can fall from your dashboard or seat onto the floor while your car is moving. This is often unavoidable, but, unless the item is going to start a fire or harm someone, you can avoid reaching for it while driving. Whatever it is, leave it be and go back for it after you’ve arrived safely at your destination.
6. Don’t Try to Multitask
Your mirrors should be adjusted, your GPS should be set, and your hair should be brushed before you get on the road. Don’t try to multitask in any way when you’re driving. In fact, it’s probably smart to avoid attempting anything more than light conversation, listening to the radio, or chewing gum behind the wheel.
7. Travel With a Buddy
Even if you’ve napped on the plane, any frequent traveler will tell you that the impact of jet-lag on the body is real and taxing. Driving is dangerous if you’re too tired or you had one too many in-flight drinks. It’s just not worth it to take the risk of driving when your head isn’t in the game. That’s why it’s safer to travel with a partner who can help you drive to wherever you need to be or help you stay alert on the road.
Note: If you realize that you’re tired only after you’re already behind the wheel, find a safe place to pull over right away.
After a long day of air travel, most people want to get home or to their hotel as quickly as possible. It’s natural to want to rush. However, the risks of distracted driving outweigh the benefits of a quick fix. So, keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and your mind on all the things you need to be aware of as a safe driver. Use the tips here to ensure a safe journey to your final destination.