Driven to Distraction? Stay Focused on the Road

Are you #DrivenToDistraction? Check your reaction times with Kwik Fit and find out how to avoid being distracted behind the wheel.

Ready for a road trip?

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I’m lucky enough to get to travel in all sorts of ways, but there’s something that I really love about a road trip.

Whether I’m driving up to the Argyll coast by myself, or taking my sons on a road trip over to Ireland, I just love getting in my car and hitting the road.

There’s a lot of planning and preparation to do before you head off on a road trip. Not just planning your itinerary and hotels, but also checking your car is ready for the trip as well. Engine oil, coolant, tyre pressure – it’s important that your car is roadworthy to make sure you have a safe and comfortable journey.

Driven to Distraction

But what about once you’re on the road? Do you use sat nav to check your route, or maybe use the maps function on your phone?

Or are you one of the many drivers who get distracted by their phones in other ways? Kwik Fit found that 19% of surveyed drivers said that they sometimes take calls while driving. 17% admit to reading texts while driving, and 12% of the drivers said that they send texts.

Any time you use your phone while driving, you risk being distracted from the task in hand. If the police pull you over, you could get 6 penalty points and a £200 fine for using a hand-held phone when driving.

And if you passed your driving text in the last two years, you’ll also lose your driving licence.

Not only that, the distraction of your phone could increase your reaction times, and that could be enough to cause a collision.

This is how not to do it…

Check your Reactions

Want to see how being distracted by your phone affects your reaction times? This game from Kwik Fit will show you how much longer it takes you to stop when you’re checking your phone, and how that translates to your stopping distance.

I was shocked by how much further the car travelled when I was answering questions on the phone. Taking an extra 0.4 seconds to react to a hazard at 30mph means the car would travel an extra 5 metres before stopping.

Why not challenge your friends to check their reactions and share your results using the hashtag #DrivenToDistraction?

How to Avoid Distraction while Driving

So how can you avoid distraction and stay on the right side of the law?

The best idea is to switch your phone on to silent and put it out of easy reach. The glove box is ideal because you won’t be tempted to check it as you drive along.

If you want to legally answer calls or use your phone for directions while driving, the law requires you to have hands-free access. This means using one of the following:

  • a bluetooth headset
  • voice command
  • a dashboard holder or mat
  • a windscreen mount
  • a built-in sat nav

And remember that the device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

Stay Aware of your Surroundings

A few years ago I did a speed awareness course – yes, one of those courses. One of the tips we were given was to spend a minute or so doing a running commentary of all the hazards you spot as you drive along the road.

This could be anything from a car that’s about to pull out from a side road, to a kid playing with a ball on the pavement.

You don’t need to do it all the time, every time that you drive. But doing this simple task every so often just increases your general awareness of hazards along the way.

Keeping aware of your surroundings and potential hazards, and avoiding distractions will help to give you a better reaction time. And that will help to make the road a safer place for all road users.

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