The car has become a favorite spot to place calls and send texts -- all too often with deadly consequences.
Distractions inside our vehicles abound. For many professionals, their car, truck or SUV is truly their office on wheels. For younger drivers, the car continues to serve as a social hub as it has for decades.
Every day, distracted driving kills scores of people and injures thousands. Here we look at distractions which may not appear dangerous but could end in a disaster.
Eating and Drinking
Compared to some of the other distracted driving habits , this one might seem relatively tame.
But consider some of the things that could go wrong:
· You could spill scalding coffee on your lap
· That idli or burger could collapse in your hands, sending crumbs, sauce and patty pieces all over your work outfit
· Greasy hands or one-handed driving means less control of the steering wheel and shifter
· In each of these cases, drivers face a potential domino effect where impaired attention plus an unexpected event lead to loss of control.
Solution: Eat before or after you get behind the wheel; to chow down during your drive places you and others at risk.
Applying Makeup or Grooming
We treat it almost as a joke: the harried office worker who slogs through morning rush hour while painting her face; the road warrior who uses drive time as shaving time. There's even a conveniently placed "vanity mirror" in the fold-down visor right above the windscreen to facilitate this morning ritual. As usual, the blamed culprit is shortage of time. With our schedules more compressed than ever, the car or SUV might seem like the perfect place to take care of less mentally taxing tasks such as personal grooming.
But there's little arguing with the science on distracted driving. All but a small percentage (between 2 and 3 percent) of the population experience a noticeable decline in performance when they try to do two or more things at once
You may have gotten away with eyebrow plucking on the highway up until now, but just remember that it's always a gamble.
Tending to your pets
The last thing you need is an animal roaming around inside your vehicle while you drive. Pets should be secured. It's safer for them, you and others outside your vehicle.
Fortunately, there are carriers for cats and other small pets. For larger dogs, you can try vehicle partitions or even doggy harnesses that strap your canine securely into a seat. That way he can enjoy the wind in his face without getting fur and slobber in yours.
The proper securing device, coupled with your reassuring words and caresses, should make riding in the car a tolerable and perhaps downright enjoyable experience for your pet. And unlike our next subject, pets don't require expensive video games or other electronics to remain settled. Continue to the next page to confirm what you already knew our next distraction would be.
Keeping an Eye on the Kids
The little bundles of joy can be anything but if they don't have distractions of their own to while away time in the car. Whether it's two or more young ones squabbling or a lone infant protesting to be released from a restrictive child safety seat, you do not want to divert your attention from the road to indulge them.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, passengers are ranked by drivers as among the most frequent causes of distraction. Young children are four times as distracting as adults, while infants can be a whopping eight times more distracting, the AAA Foundation reports. Think carefully, though, about stealing a few seconds' glance to investigate while at cruising speed.
It takes only a fraction of a second for a road-borne hazard to enter your vehicle's collision zone and precipitate a disaster.
For the sake of everyone involved, if the little ones' screaming is about to force you to turn around and go back there -- pull over first.