In case you haven’t already heard, April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to remind yourself and loved ones about the effects (and dangers) of on-the-road distractions.
If our 2017 State of Driving Survey has taught us anything, it’s that the majority of today’s drivers are doing more than just driving while in their cars. For example:
- 1 in 3 drivers ages 18–29 admitted to texting and driving
- 50% of people are multitasking in the car by talking on the phone
- 43% eat or meal prep while on the road
- More than 13% groom themselves or undergo an outfit change during car rides
And that’s just the beginning. While additional survey findings support the notion that drivers just can’t seem to peel their eyes away from their phone screens, few are aware of the alternatives mobile devices have to offer that actually help drivers keep their full attention on the road.
By taking advantage of some of the many apps available through their cellphones, drivers can ensure safety before getting in their cars. Here are three safe ways to use your mobile device that cut the need for driving distractions without compromising connectivity:
Map your route in advance
Studies show that it only takes a two-second distraction to increase your risk of crashing by 20 percent. Despite this alarming statistic, the average driver still spends more than three minutes per hour on their phone.
What’s more, a recent study by Cambridge Mobile Telematics revealed that one in four drivers involved in a car crash used their phone within one minute of the accident. The study also found that 29 percent of these wrecks occurred while driving at speeds of more than 56 miles per hour. This further supports the need to always be prepared and maintain attention on the road.
But thanks to apps like Google Maps or Waze — which use real-time roadconditions to predict ETAs — you’ll know what to expect before you get in the car to prepare for any changes in road conditions that may come your way. So the next time you go on a lengthy commute or road trip, be sure to determine your route before you hit the road and nix reaching for your phone altogether.
Turn your location services on
Did you know that sharing your real-time location with friends and family while you’re driving can reduce the risks of becoming distracted? Recent studies show that 52 percent of car rides that resulted in an accident or crash were caused by cell phone distractions — specifically, from incoming calls or texts. Thankfully, apps like Find my Friends or Life360 let others know when you’re on the move, so you don’t have to worry about texting or calling back right away.
If you’re still struggling to detach from your phone, make your trusted circle aware that drivers who use a smartphone instead of maintaining their focus on the road are more than three times more likely to be involved in a car accident. By setting expectations with others before hopping in the car, all parties can understand if and when you’re slower to respond. As a result, no one is putting their own safety at risk, and both you and your loved ones can rest assured that you’re fully focused the next time you get behind the wheel.
Make your phone send texts for you
Despite the fact that many states have adopted laws to ban the use of phones while driving, more drivers are being ticketed as a result of reaching for their phones. However, states that have such laws in place are likely to see slightly lower distraction rates — and less accidents — than states without.
So why are drivers risking their safety (and others’) for a text?
Simply put, you don’t have to turn off your phone while you drive to cut the temptation. Instead, download DriveMode — an app that responds to incoming messages for you to let loved ones know you’re driving. For those with an unbearable case of F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out), Safely Go serves as an interactive alternative that reads texts, emails and more aloud. This way, you can stay in the know without having to pose a threat to other drivers.
With cell phone usage behind the wheel proving to be the №1 cause of distractions, it’s time to put your phone to positive use that won’t harm yourself or others. There are dozens of apps and hands-free gadgets available to help reduce the need for distractions, but it’s up to you to use them and promote distracted driving awareness all year long.