There is no doubt that driving distractions can cause traffic problems and road crashes. Driving safely requires total concentration and while there are numerous distractions outside a vehicle – such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes as well as advertising and signs – there are also potential distractions inside.
IAM RoadSmart has provided advice on how to overcome five items inside a vehicle that could cause a distraction while driving.
• Smoking and vaping
There are legal restrictions on smoking in vehicles. If you do smoke or vape, this could be a distraction. What if you drop it? Where would your focus be? And have you thought about how the smoke from your vape could get in the way of the road?
As helpful as technology can be, it can also lead to less focus on the road. For example, a sat-nav can tempt a driver to take a quick glance at the map. To avoid taking your eye off the road, keep your sat-nav out of sight and listen to the instructions rather than looking. It always helps to plan a route beforehand. If you need to adjust it, pull into a safe place to do so.
• Food and drink
Eating or drinking in a vehicle slows down reaction times. It’s better to take a short break to consume food; this way drivers don’t have one hand off the steering wheel, so there’s no opportunity to be distracted.
Music can become a distraction when you’ve put the volume too high which can prevent you from hearing any key sounds, such as emergency services. Either turn it off or lower the volume so you are still aware of your surroundings.
• Car ancillaries (indicators, lights, windscreen wipers etc.)
When using these while driving and perhaps being unfamiliar with the location of the controls, attention is not 100% on the road. Even worse, drivers can sometimes take their eyes of the road for a split second or two. Learn where the controls are to minimise distraction, so you can operate them as safely as possible.
It is important that your company has a robust fleet policy in place to safely operate company vehicles in adherence with all applicable laws and regulations.
This policy should have a section on mobile phone usage – it is best practise to not use your phone at all while driving. It is only legal to use a hand-held device if you are safely parked and this does not include waiting in traffic or when sat at the traffic lights.
Include a deterrent in the policy to warn drivers of the consequences they will face if the policy is not adhered to.