According to a recent report by Yahoo!, young drivers have admitted to being guilty of driving when distracted. 23% of young drivers said they’d nearly had an accident through carelessness behind the wheel, and 18% suggested that driving distractions have led them to driving through a red light.
In the UK, it is illegal to use a mobile phone at the wheel; this includes instances where a car is stationery but has the motor running. Drivers who are caught using a hand-held device behind the wheel risk being issued an automatic fixed penalty notice, 3 penalty points on their licence, and a £100 fine. At the moment, there is also talks of increasing the fine for those caught with a phone behind the wheel to £450. However, reports show that 42% of young people still use their hand-held devises at the wheel. Although a staggering result, surprisingly it didn’t top the charts as the most distracting thing drivers get up to while driving- eating and drinking did! According to Yahoo!’s reports, 47% of young drivers agreed that their driving had been poorly affected through them eating and drinking at the wheel.
So what are the effects of being a distracted driver? Safecar have reported that distracted driving can lead to more than just a bump. Other consequences include poor lane discipline, inability to make quick decision, reduced situational awareness, inability to execute emergency manoeuvres and an inability to recognise and obey traffic signals and signs; all of which can be potentially dangerous to other motorists and pedestrians.
With RoSpa claiming drivers partake in at least one distracting activity per journey, here is a list of potential distractions you may face while driving this summer:
Summer always comes with a soundtrack of anthems that make you want to sing and dance. When the sun’s out, drivers often get tempted to crank up the volume and belt their hearts out to the roads ahead. However fun this may be, it can increase a driver’s risk of collision. Studies show that overuse of one sensory organ can result in the others underperforming. When it comes to loud music and driving, the overworking of the sound organs can lead to a decreased sense for spotting a hazard and, as a result, a delayed stopping time. As well as this, loud music will cover other sounds from your surroundings, including sirens from emergency vehicles and potentially any concerning noises your car makes. Stay safe by keeping your volume low enough to be aware of other sounds in your environment.
An unwelcomed distraction, sometimes the sun can be hard to avoid. On occasion, it may be possible to take an alternative route, with a clearer vision field, but this isn’t always an available option. It’s beneficial to utilise sun visors and perhaps invest in a pair of sunglasses. Decreasing your speed and using extra caution is recommended while driving in the sun, especially on routes prone to greater hazards, such as pedestrian and school zones. Where this won’t completely avoid the distraction of sun, it can minimise any potential dangers.
Bugs in the car
It’s no secret that the warm weather brings out all of God’s creatures. Unfortunately, insects aren’t so polite, so find no qualms in trespassing in motorist’s cars. Where some proportion of drivers are happy to accommodate these bugs by ignoring them, for most, instinct dictates an attack of some sort. Swatting, spraying, brushing and flinching can all lead to jerking or drifting while driving, which can lead a driver into greater danger. Whilst bug-phobes are using up all their efforts to flick the creatures away, they’re not giving the roads their full attention, leading to delayed reactions. Avoid bug-mishaps by opting for the air con, instead of opening your windows.
Moving objects (taking kids/pets on a drive)
Driving or not, it is only human to become distracted by things that just won’t sit still.
Parents and pet owners may know this all too well, and when it comes to driving with fidgets, they could be decreasing the driver’s attentiveness. Where it is wholly inappropriate to keep children and pets tied up, there are some ways to keep their movements to a minimal. Keeping children and pets fed and hydrated and making sure they have activities to keep them occupied are both ways to keep them from distracting drivers.
Friends and talking
No summer road trip is complete without a good crowd of friends to enjoy the time with. In some cases, the drive is the perfect opportunity to have a laugh and a good old catch up. However, being caught up in all the laughs and jokes can distract drivers from the important task of keeping their friends safe along the journey. Social Media is now, for the most part, disallowing any part of an individual’s life from being undocumented. In a group, it is almost unheard of to not share adventures with the rest of the world via platforms such as Twitter and, most commonly, Snapchat. However, performing for the world, while behind the wheel is risky business, and not worth the potential destruction it may cause. Keep you and your friends safe during a road trip by sitting out on the mischief throughout the journey, and keeping your full attention on the roads.
Day dreaming and Scenic views
When driving down long stretches of road on a summery day, it’s easy to get lost in thoughts of bliss. While zooming through scenic routes, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the set of a glamourous film. But having your heads in the clouds, can lead to your reactions becoming delayed, should you face a hazard. Reports state that daydreaming cannot be eliminated completely; only decreased. The problem with daydreaming behind the wheel is that you can feel completely in control of your surroundings, when in reality you are barely conscious to it. Decrease the chances of a wandering mind by keeping your eyes active. Glaring at the same stretch of road can make you lose focus; however, changing your gaze every few seconds will disallow your mind to roam too far off. Staying self-aware is key to avoid daydreaming distractions, and could be a life saver.
Following from Yahoo!’s report, here’s the complete list of driving distractions that young people admitted to committing:
- Mobile phones – 42%
- Food and drink – 48%
- Looking at something outside of car – 44%
- Changing CD/radio station – 1/3
- Music streaming apps – 27%
- Applying make-up or skin care products – 13%
- Styling hair – 12%
Other distractions noted by RoSPA included: driving when drowsy, listening to an audiobook, lack of familiarity with a vehicle, reading, and smoking; all of which can be easily avoided. Before setting off on a journey of any length, it is important to make sure you and your car are both fit for purpose. This will not only allow for a more enjoyable journey, but also a safe one. Remember, you are risking more than your own life when driving inattentively; you are also responsible for the safety of other road users and pedestrians. Stay safe by steering clear of any tempting distractions, and taking extra precautions when experiencing the unavoidable ones.
5 ways to tackle winter sun glare
It’s perhaps ironic that during winter, the darkest and most coldest season of them all, one of the biggest dangers for motorists is the sun. You’ll know the feeling of having no other choice than to squint or close your eyes when the sun dazzles you, and doing that whilst driving can be a dangerous, yet avoidable, issue.
Glare problems persist all year round, but during the winter it’s particularly dangerous because the sun is low in the sky during the morning, which is when the roads are at their busiest with people driving to work and taking their children to school. There’s also the additional issue of the sun reflecting off snow, ice and water on the road.
An AA report released earlier this year claimed that sun glare is responsible for 36 deaths every year and causes nearly 3,000 accidents. Due to the danger associated with turning corners whilst temporarily ‘blinded’, most accidents occur on minor roads, rather than on the motorway. The report states that of the 2,905 accidents caused by sun glare last year, 1,203 were on A-roads, 428 on B-roads, 1,222 on other minor roads and only 52 were on the motorway.
Here are five tips you can use to ensure you drive safely and counter the damaging effect of low winter sun.
5. Ensure your windscreen is properly washed
With sun glare reducing visibility, it’s vital that you ensure your windscreen is clean and free of debris. Regularly check your windscreen washer fluid levels and top up when necessary. If you’ve got debris on your windscreen then the sun’s reflection will scatter through, making it even harder to see. As soon as you notice your windscreen starting to look a bit on the grubby side, give it a quick spray, but if you’ve got stubborn marks that won’t budge then clean the windows properly or head to a car wash immediately.
It’s also important to note that your wiper blades must be in good condition because they’ll fail to properly clean your windscreen if they’re worn or split. Wiper blades are fairly cheap to buy and simple to attach.
4. Lower your speed
Drive with caution and resist the urge to brake suddenly whenever you become temporarily blinded from the sun. Approach junctions with particular care and ensure each direction is clear of vehicles before you set off. This might sound like common sense but with reduced visibility it’s so easy to miss an oncoming vehicle.
Remember that the speed limit is the maximum speed you can drive at in a particular area, it’s not always safe to drive at it and if you feel unsafe don’t hesitate to drive slower.
3. Wear sunglasses and lower your visor at all times
Once autumn comes rolling around it might seem logical to put away your sunglasses until the following spring, but during the winter months it’s absolutely crucial you always have a pair in the car. Don’t just buy any old pair (a cheap one or one that you just like the look of) and polarised lenses can be particularly recommended for driving as they will be more efficient at reducing glare because most of the dazzling reflections will be horizontally polarised – while the sunglasses will be polarised vertically. Whilst you might have to pay a little bit extra, they might just save your life. Typically people don’t buy sunglasses in the winter and that means you’ll often be able to purchase them at a discounted price. Remember to remove your sunglasses before you drive into a tunnel. If you don’t, your vision will be restricted, even in tunnels that appear to be well-lit.
Visors are always a great way of reducing the amount of sunlight you get in your eyes. Make a habit of constantly having it down during the winter months. Remember that most cars allow you to swivel the sun visor to the right to counter glare coming in from the side window as well.
2. Consider taking an alternative route to work
If there’s a different route you can take to work, one that is lined with tall trees or buildings, then use it. It might take you a little bit longer but it’ll be far safer and you won’t find yourself constantly lowering your speed whenever the sun dazzles you.
Ask around for people’s recommendations or even have a look on Google Street View to see which routes will be safer.
1. Be aware of what’s around you
Keep in mind that other motorists on the road will be suffering from sun glare as well, and if they haven’t read this blog post, they might not be wearing sunglasses! Avoid braking heavily because the car behind you might not be able to react in time, and keep ample space between you and the car in front of you in case they brake heavily themselves. Pay even more attention to cyclists and pedestrians because they’ll be even harder to spot when the sun is low. Take note of where the sun is in the sky at all times; if it’s behind you then it’ll be in the eyes of the cars driving towards you, so be aware that they might not be able to see you. Dipping your headlights is a great way to ensure you’re clearly seen by the oncoming traffic.
A lot of these vehicle checks, such as checking washer fluid levels, you will be able to do yourself but it is important you also regularly service your vehicle at a trusted independent garage. This will ensure that your car remains roadworthy and safe, even in potentially dangerous weather conditions. To find a garage you can trust, enter your postcode in our online garage finder here.