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Distracted Driving: a Contagious Malady.

Updated on May 12, 2015
Note the distractions just on the dashboard.
Note the distractions just on the dashboard.

There are many driving classes available (the Smith system, and AARP driving class are a couple of examples), but the basics are largely the same. The first step is as the old country song said, keep it between the navigational beacons (between the lines). Sounds simple, but the slightest distraction can be just enough to allow a driver to cross the line or miss an obstacle that could be hazardous or even deadly, and all the training in the world won’t prevent it.

Practice makes perfect is the only solution to the problem. Practice ignoring the distractions.

Distracted driving is a contagious problem that runs rampant on the highways of today’s world. Contagious? When the person in the next car is yelling at the person on the other end of their cell phone, your attention is drawn away from the road, and you become a distracted driver. When there is a rollover (perhaps the result of distracted driving) in the opposite lane, you are distracted, even if only momentarily. Some driving courses suggest watching for distracted drivers as a road hazard, however this is one way the problem transmits itself from one driver to another. The secret is to maintain a balance.

If you text, read, apply make-up, shave, ..... or any thing else that distracts you from driving. Quit reading this article and stop driving distracted! There are more than enough distractions out there already. Here are some ideas on how to avoid this dangerous illness.

Many professionals will admit that it is nearly impossible to not be distracted sometimes while driving. It’s a fact of life, we see other distracted drivers, we are concentrating on how to get to our destination, or some random may enter our consciousness, and take our attention from the road. The trick to safe driving is to minimize those distracted times and prepare for the results.

“Look 12 (or some other arbitrary number) seconds ahead.” This is not bad advice, but it comes with some provisions. Don’t let looking so far ahead become a distraction (resulting in loss of control of the vehicle). Instead, use those 12 seconds as a safety buffer for the hazards that are closer to your vehicle. Balance hazards that are down the road with those right next to you.

Another suggestion by the professionals is to keep your eyes moving. This can lead to information overload, and distraction from the task at hand, (such as keeping your vehicle in control and between the lines). Balancing what might happen with what is happening is the key here. It is impossible to predict which of the many possibilities will happen when driving. Keeping your eyes moving is one of many ways to stay alert so that when one of those hazards presents itself, the driver is able to react.

I saw a bumper sticker (on a taxi) which read, ‘If you can see my tires you are a safe driver.’ Giving yourself an out, or giving yourself space carries certain provisions. A driver intent on keeping space (by slowing down for example,) can become a hazard to other drivers around him. That same driver may drift into another lane or vehicle while trying to find that way out. Here balance, common sense, and patience are the keys. Traffic is dynamic. As drivers pass (or are passed) there may be times when that ‘space’ or ‘way out’ will briefly disappear. Patience is a virtue in this case. That space will usually open back up in a few seconds. Never let keeping or finding a way out distract you from the main task at hand, driving.

Driving is a balancing act. Safe drivers balance the distractions around them with keeping their vehicle in control and moving safely toward their destination. Other drivers may just be distracted...



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