As much as we wish we didn’t, we all find ourselves getting distracted behind the wheel from time to time.
But what are the common causes of distractions that you should be aware of?
Not only is using a mobile phone behind the wheel distracting, it’s also illegal, incredibly dangerous and is a growing cause of fatal collisions in the UK.
But despite the dangers, a recent RAC study found that 64% of motorists still don’t know the penalties for being caught — a £200 fine and 6 penalty points as a minimum.
It’s also worth noting that even a hands-free kit can be distracting, so think twice before making that call, and pull over safely.
We’ve all been there. Whether you’ve got something on your mind or simply let your attention wander, your own thoughts can be pretty distracting.
This can be a particular problem on more familiar roads where drivers tend to ‘switch off’ slightly, backed up by research which shows that 62% of all crashes occur within 11km of the victim’s home.
These days cars are packed with so much cutting-edge tech that it’s hard not to get distracted by it.
But just because it’s there, doesn’t mean that you need to play with it while driving.
Make sure any driving tech is programmed correctly before you set off to avoid any distractions — that includes sat navs, heaters and any music or radio settings.
Speaking of music, listening to loud music can also be distracting if you get carried away singing along with your favourite chorus, or maybe even a bit of air guitar.
As well as being annoying for other road users and residents, loud music could stop you from being able to hear approaching sirens and could cause a collision.
And don’t think about using headphones either, as these can also stop you from listening to the road.
If you’re a smoker, lighting up behind the wheel might seem like a good way to calm yourself down.
However, several studies have found the habit increases the risk of a crash, whether from smoke impairing a driver’s vision or a lit cigarette falling into a motorist’s lap.
Don’t forget that it’s also illegal to smoke in a car if you’re carrying passengers under 18, or if your vehicle is classed as a company car, or you transport members of the public.
Whether you’re getting distracted by a cool lightning storm or being hit by a torrential downpour, it’s safe to say the weather can definitely affect your driving.
Whatever the weather, keep your focus solely on the road in front and alter your speed and driving style accordingly.
And with winter coming, it’s good to remember that if the weather outside gets really frightful you should try and avoid driving altogether.
Heading to the drive-thru to pick up a quick cheeseburger or some fried chicken?
As well as risking a fine if you pay with your smartphone, eating itself can be distracting.
Studies have shown that eating or drinking behind the wheel make drivers 44% slower to react, and that’s without any ketchup or mayonnaise dripping onto your lap or upholstery.
A car journey with a friend can be a great way to catch up on all the latest goings on in each other’s lives.
But a good gossip shouldn’t stand in the way of you driving safely.
Studies show that in-car passengers are associated with a reduction in visual scanning of the road – particularly in younger, male drivers – so make sure your mate doesn’t end up causing a collision.
With the amount of tech in modern cars you’d be forgiven for thinking you could never get lost on the roads again. But unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet.
So, whether you’ve missed an exit or taken a wrong turn, don’t let losing your bearings distract you from the task at hand.
If you do get lost, pull over safely, turn the engine off and check your sat nav or atlas to see where you need to go next.
Ask any parent who drives, and they’ll tell you how distracting it can be to have kids in the back, particularly if they’re arguing.
But whatever your little ones are doing, don’t take your focus off the road ahead.
To help yourself out, make sure they’re in the correct car seat and provide some travel games to keep them occupied if you’re heading on a long journey.
For all the latest news on motoring laws and regulations, check out the 1ST CENTRAL Hub to keep up to date with the latest goings on.