LNC who work on personal injury cases may be handling a case caused by deadly driving distractions.
Here’s how it works. You are sitting behind the driver’s wheel in your car at a red light. The light turns green, and you start to accelerate. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a car come barreling through the intersection against the red light. The driver has a phone up to his ear. Before you can stop, the driver hits your car. Your life changes in an instant.
Deadly driving distractions affect people behind the wheel of a several ton piece of steel that can change course in an instant. There are multiple ways distraction causes accidents. Here are a dozen of the top ways, with suggestions for how to avoid them.
Avoid these deadly driving distractions
1. Never text message while driving. You’ll be unable to keep your eyes on the road and send coherent messages at the same time. Many states have banned texting while driving. A friend of mine would have run over a pedestrian when she was texting had I not warned her.
2. Avoid making phone calls while driving. The process of talking on the phone uses a different part of the brain than the part needed to respond to stimuli while driving. Let your voice mail answer calls when you drive. If you have to make or receive a call, pull over to the side of the road and put on your emergency flashers. (Pull over as far as you can. Cars sitting on the side of the road have been hit.) Keep the call brief and get back on the road. Attorneys are able to obtain phone records and find out if you were on the phone or texting when the accident occurred.
3. Keep the windows of your car closed in the summer time. Rather than to leave them open when you are parked, use windshield covers to reduce the buildup of heat. Stinging insects that fly into your open windows can settle onto a warm place, and come to life when you are driving.
4. Resist the urge to turn around to look at children or backseat passengers. Use the rear view mirror to make brief eye contact.
5. Keep pets confined to containers or strapped into carriers. I once made the mistake of following advice that I read somewhere about how to take a cat to the vet. “Use a pillowcase”, I read. Don’t try it. Cats can claw through a pillowcase and then roam around the car. They can get between the driver and the accelerator or brake.
6. Keep small children restrained in car seats. One of my colleagues was driving me to a store. His three-year-old son was not restrained. When the driver hit the brake, his son came flying through the space between the bucket seats. His head would have hit the gear shift if I had not grabbed the back of his shirt. Be very strict about not putting the car into gear unless the children are adequately restrained.
7. Avoid looking at objects alongside the road. Those air-filled objects that wave are designed to make you pay attention to them and not the road. Some places have banned their use as too distracting.
8. Follow the “car commander” rule. The rule says that the person behind the wheel is in charge of driving and does not need to be offered directions unless asked for. Any comments from any other person in the car about the driver’s performance are to be kept to a minimum. One of my colleagues shared this rule with me; it has cut down driving-related disagreements between my husband and me.
9. Avoid having emotional discussions when driving. This is not the time to dissect differences of opinions, get into arguments, or try to resolve long-standing and difficult issues.
10. Do not smoke while driving. Dropping a lit cigarette can cause a fire and a distraction.
11. Many drivers love to listen to music or educational CDs while driving. Avoid changing CDs while the car is in motion. A friend of mine has a daughter who plowed into a row of parked cars while she was changing a CD. Load the CDs onto an Ipod that you can plug into the car’s sound system, if possible.
12. Keep a small notepad and pen next to you when you drive. You can easily reach over, place the pad on your lap and jot a few words without ever having to look down.
If you keep in mind the dangers of distraction, you’ll drive safer and protect your life and the lives of other drivers.
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC is president of The Pat Iyer Group. Don’t bother trying to call her when she is driving.