It can happen quickly and there are raft of culprits that sneak up when you least expect them. A text message or phone call, hunger pains, getting lost, trying to find a good song on the radio... even just a conversation with passengers can be distracting.
We've all been distracted behind the wheel at some point. The key is recognise when it happens and be proactive to avoid major repercussions. According to the NZTA, distracted driving contributed to 23 deaths and 178 serious injuries on New Zealand roads in 2016. The NZTA also noted that the biggest distractions are mobile phones, talking to passengers, reaching for objects, using GPS or maps, eating and drinking, smoking, grooming, and using entertainment systems.
Interestingly, the majority of Kiwi drivers are distracted during peak traffic times, the very time when they should be concentrating more-between 7-9am and 4-6pm.
NZTA has some even more harrowing statistics—sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. So at 90km/h, that's like driving the length of a rugby field blindfolded! Not surprisingly, they note that drivers that text are 23 times more likely to crash.
Our tips to stay focused:
- Turn your cellphone off or switch it to CarPlay mode if you have an iPhone. If you're not sure how to do this, check out this Apple Help page.
- Or if you know you will get distracted keep your phone on the back seat or in the boot so you aren't tempted.
- Adjust the radio, navigation, heating or air conditioning before you set off, or pull over to do so.
- If a child is crying or needs attention in the back seat, pull over.
- Ask passengers to be quiet if you're having trouble concentrating.
- Don't eat or drink while driving-take regular breaks instead.
- Avoid multitasking-don't put on makeup or groom yourself in the car.
And lastly, do your best to use common sense and stay safe: if it takes your eyes off the road, leave it until later.