Being Driving Focussed

14 April 2016 - By Eugene Herbert

While the race for the
Oval office in the US is very topical (along with the associated humour) there
are other issues, from a road safety perspective, that share the public
platform albeit at a lower profile.

The National Safety
Council, as part of their initiative to draw awareness to Distracted While
Driving month, has urged all motorists to take the focused-driver challenge and
pledge to drive free of all cell phone use.

While we of course
recognise that it is not only cell phones (actually their abuse) that are the
issue, research shows many motorists engage in erratic / dangerous behaviour
while entering information on a SATNAV, eating lunch or even reading the
newspaper.

In the interests of
expediency, we share the actual pledge that motorists sign up for and we trust
/ hope that SA drivers can emulate.  

I pledge to Take
Back My Drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the
roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way. I will not:

-         
Have a phone conversation — handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth

-         
Text or send Snapchats

-         
Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system

-         
Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media

-         
Check or send emails

-         
Take selfies or film videos

-         
Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)

-         
Call or message someone else when I know they are driving.

 Reflected
below are some distractions that could be highlighted

-     Store any loose
items and other distractions that could roll around in the vehicle, so you
don't feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.

-     Make adjustments to
driving position (including interior & exterior mirrors) and other devices
before you start your trip. Address vehicle systems such as GPS, climate
controls and sound systems before starting the journey. Decide on your route
and check traffic conditions ahead of time so as to allow for any delaying
incidents such as crashes...

-     Finish dressing and
personal grooming at home, or if a sales representative in the ablution
facilities — before you get on the road.

-     Eat meals or snacks
before or after your trip, not while driving. 

-     Secure any children
and pets (yes that’s right) before your trip begins. If they need your
attention, pull off the road in a safe place to care for them. Reaching into
the backseat is not only a distraction it can cause you to lose control of the
vehicle as only one hand is on the wheel and the body is no longer correctly
positioned to take evasive action if needed...

-     If you have
passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving – make them
part of the solution instead of problem. There is nothing wrong or
inappropriate in having some quiet time while you are focussed on driving.

-     If some other
activity demands your attention (maybe a sudden brainwave on what you have
forgotten or need to remind yourself), pull off the road and stop your vehicle
in a safe place. 

-     As a general rule,
if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other
activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not
while behind the wheel.
 

Till next time, let’s
remember our golden rule of driving – “be nice it’s contagious”. Not being
upset with other drivers will help keep you focussed.


Eugene Herbert



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