Statistically speaking, younger drivers are at the greatest risk of being in accidents, as well as being in fatal accidents.
Furthermore, distracted driving is among the leading causes of car crashes in America. We can put two and two together and surmise that getting distracted while driving is a problem young drivers are facing in big numbers, and also paying a rather heavy price for it.
Distractions are difficult for even older adults to combat. But just because something is difficult, does not mean it’s impossible. Let’s look at what young people can learn and do to make their life on the road slightly easier and safer.
Few Minutes Stolen on the Road Are Not Worth It
You think you can catch up on your makeup, your phone calls, or your music when driving. Well, why not? Commutes are often long and boring, and then for the rest of the day we are pressed for time.
So when we are in the driver’s seat, apparently not doing anything other than handling a steering wheel and pulling a few gears (not even that in the case of automatics), why not make the most of that time and get a few important things done?
Bad idea. A very bad idea. In fact, this idea is the root of all problems.
You are not “just sitting” behind the wheel whiling time until you reach your destination. That would be alright if you were a passenger. Instead, you are in the driver’s seat.
Let this be the start of a lesson you’d do well to remember your whole life. Being in the driver’s seat, both literally and metaphorically, requires you to up your game.
It requires all the focus you can muster and remain on top of the situation, instead of lapsing, getting bored, and resorting to something foolish to amuse you.
If you want to relax or urgently make a phone call, pull over. Or wait until you’ve reached your destination.
It Can Wait. It Must Wait
Very few things are so important that they cannot wait. It’s our restlessness and deep conditioning that makes us react to a ringing phone or a Whatsapp ping instantly. But none of it is important when you are driving. Remember, when you are driving, you are already doing the most important thing in that moment. So everything else is secondary, and can, or rather must, wait.
Distracted Driving is More Dangerous than You Think
It’s so dangerous because it’s sneaky. We think we can pull one off, and then in a fraction of a second we find ourselves crashing into that tree we simply did not see coming.
A 2011 survey by the NHTSA on the behaviors and attitudes of young drivers found that the use of cell phone played a role in the majority of crashes and near-crashes experienced by them. The survey also found that drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 reported the highest incidence of crashes and near-crashes, with 23% of them admitting to having been in such situations.
The writing is clear. You keep the phone away when you are behind the wheel. You also keep your phone’s in-built voice assistant on mute, because even that is a distraction. Anything that takes your mind off the task of driving is a distraction, period.
Tech Can Make a Difference
For those who fully intend to not get distracted but find it hard to resist the temptation, there’s help in the form of technology.
There are apps that tell you of traffic conditions, give you directions, remind you of the pending oil change, inform you about the nearest gas stations, and basically create optimum conditions for driving. Make use of them so that silly things like a wrongly facing rear mirror or worrying about where the next gas station is do not distract you.
We have covered this in detail in a previous post, so be sure to give it a read if you are interested in knowing how apps can help you drive safely.
We wish there was a magic wand that made all the distractions go away, or morphed us all into responsible and good drivers who simply never lose their focus.
But there isn’t any. Good sense and a bit of responsibility is as good a magic wand as you will get. You can realize that now when you are still young and at the start of your driving life, or learn it the hard way with time. The choice is yours.