Though drivers might not realize it, many of us have faced a distracted driving event at some point in time. Whether it be answering a phone call, snacking on a drive thru meal, or answering a text message, it can be difficult to avoid distractions.
In fact, a current Niagara audit shows 45% of motorists (18 years or older) state they have used a mobile device while driving. Avoiding distractions is crucial for young adults, as according to the 2018 Road Safety Audit, the number one cause of fatalities for those aged 15 to 24 in Niagara is transportation accidents.
To help, check out these tips to avoid distractions while driving.
Put away your phone
Taking calls and responding to text messages is a definite ‘no’ on the road. Many smart phones now have a do-not-disturb function, or an instant reply tool that will let your contacts know when you’re driving. If you’re waiting for an important call, pull over into a safe spot, as even hands-free talking takes your focus off the road.
Limit passengers and activity level
Driving with a group of people can create a dangerous driving environment, as it’s likely that drivers may not be completely focused on the road. Though you may want to drive your group of friends, recognize that your car’s capacity may be different than your capacity as a concentrated and safe driver.
CAA recently released the #UnplugandDrive campaign, a video series to draw awareness towards distracted driving.
Plan your route in advance
If you’re travelling to a new destination, load the address in your hands-free navigation device before departing. Be sure to turn on voice navigation so you can listen for directions rather than looking at a screen.
Secure pets and items
When travelling with pets, make sure they are secured to the backseat so they remain there and don’t move around. This is also the case for items such as luggage or backpacks. Ensuring everything in your vehicle is secure in place will help keep you and your four-legged travel companion safe in the event of a sudden stop or crash.
Eat before or after your trip
As tempting as it might be to eat your next meal while travelling, its incredibly dangerous to you and your passengers. Eating before your trip or once you’ve arrived at your destination is not only safer, but you’ll also avoid spilling on yourself and your vehicle
Driving distracted is not without penalty. If a motorist is caught in Niagara driving while distracted, the penalty could be between $615 and $3,000, along with three to six demerit points. If a motorist is guilty of an accident caused by distracted driving, they could face reckless or careless driving, leading to jail time.
For more information about distracted driving in Ontario, visit the Ministry of Transportation’s list of frequently asked questions.