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8 Ways to Reduce Distracted Driving

Distractions while driving are everywhere and can include anything from mobile phones to billboards and backseat passengers. Make the road safer for yourself and your fellow drivers with these tips.

Sponsored by the Alberta Motor Association 

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Turn Off All Mobile Devices

Mobile devices have become a huge distraction in recent years, yet the temptation to text or talk on the phone is too great for some despite the risks involved, not to mention the fact that it’s illegal.  Using a hands-free device doesn’t reduce the risk totally and according to a National Safety Council report 26% of all car crashes involve cell-phone use including hands-free devices. Reduce the temptation by turning off the device so that you do not hear the constant ringing and beeps.  Keep it in the back seat so that the allure to send a text or check emails at a red light is reduced.

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Organize Your Music in Advance

Flipping through radio stations or songs while driving means that the driver is not 100% focused on the road. Pre-set your favourite radio station or try making a playlist filled with your favourite tunes. Music should also not be too loud. Not only is loud music annoying for fellow drivers, it’s distracting and drowns out all those sirens or warning noises that may be trying to tell you something important.

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Avoid Driving While Tired

Alberta is filled with endless, straight, long highways with few sights along the way. These monotonous hours make it easy to doze off while driving. To reduce your odds of napping on the road, try driving during daylight hours and make sure you are well rested. Also check any medications that have been taken prior to heading out as some may cause drowsiness. If you must take a medication that causes drowsiness, it may be best to ask someone else to take the wheel. It goes without saying that you should avoid driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.   

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Primp and Eat Before You Go

People do all sorts of crazy things while driving behind the wheel from eating breakfast to reading a newspaper. Eating, reading or applying makeup reduces the driver’s attention to the road and means that one or both hands are off the wheel. Eat before you go or if you are hungry pull the car over and take a break. Always try and do makeup or perform any sort of grooming before you depart. Not only is it safer, but you’ll probably look better too.

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Figure Out Your Route in Advance

Take a quick look at where you are going before you leave and familiarize yourself with the roads and any major landmarks. “Plan ahead when you are in your vehicle so that your GPS is already set up, you know where you are going and everything is all prepared. This is so that when you do get behind the wheel, driving is your primary focus,” says Mychele Joyes, Driver Education Program Coordinator, Alberta Transportation. If you use a GPS, make sure it is placed in an area where it won’t force you to take your eyes off the road.

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Secure Passengers and Equipment

Explain to kids that they should try to save any questions or requests for when the final destination is reached. Make sure they are safely buckled up and provide them with books or toys to keep them distracted. If you need to discipline them, wait until you are in a safe area. It’s also preferable to leave pets at home. If you have to take them, they should be properly secured. Lastly, make sure that any equipment or goods are in a place where they won’t tumble around. 

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Give Yourself Enough Time

Drivers in a rush tend to take unnecessary risks and have increased road rage. Not only is it stressful for the driver, it’s also stressful for those sharing the road with them. Give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination, taking into consideration road conditions, traffic and any construction that might be taking place.

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Understand the Controls on Your Car

Ideally all controls in your vehicle will be set before you start driving. In the case where you have to make an adjustment on the road and there is no safe place to pull over, it’s best that you understand where all car controls are located and how they work. Speeding down the highway or navigating through heavy traffic is not the best time to learn where the defrost button or windshield wiper controls are located. 

For more information, visit the Alberta Motor Association’s website.