Are these driving distractions putting you at risk?

Does eating at the wheel distract you from driving?

Are you ever guilty of eating your Maccy D’s behind the wheel, or turning up the radio to full blast? If constant distractions are stealing your focus, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.

Distracted drivers accounted for over a third of fatal crashes on UK roads in 2016, and shockingly, three-quarters of us admit we rarely concentrate on the road the whole time we’re driving.

So which driving distractions are most likely to steer your attention from the road, and what can you do to help keep your focus?

Top 10 driving distractions

1. Mobile phones

Mobile phones and other handheld devices are an all-too common distraction on UK roads, with 23% of us admitting we occasionally use our phone illegally to make or receive calls while driving.

2. Sat nav

It’s also illegal to use a handheld phone or sat nav while driving. Adjusting your route or reprogramming a sat nav while your engine is running, could lead to hefty fines, penalty points or even a driving ban.

3. Back-seat drivers

Nagging partners are the biggest back-seat drivers, research suggests. Just under half say interfering comments have led to arguments in the car, with 5% admitting they’ve accidentally jumped a red light while fighting with an annoying passenger.

4. Noisy children

Nearly 95% of parents find themselves distracted by their baby or child having a tantrum in the car. So it comes as no surprise that one in five drivers name their children as the biggest distraction they face on the roads.

5. Adjusting the radio

Aside from the obvious distraction of taking your eyes off the road to change station, recent studies suggest upbeat music also plays a part in increasing driver error and encouraging aggressive behaviour behind the wheel.

6. Driver mindset

Feeling anxious, stressed or angry can all have adverse effects on your ability to concentrate. Nearly a third (31%) of UK motorists admit to having a near miss due to feelings of anxiety.

7. Eating or drinking

Studies show that eating or drinking while in charge of a vehicle decreases reaction times by 44%. Unsurprisingly, drivers who munch on the road are also twice as likely to be involved in an accident.

8. Smoking

Lighting up behind the wheel causes an increased crash risk and has actually been named as the second most frequently observed distraction in UK drivers.

9. Events outside the car

A study by the Transport Research Library (TRL), found that over half of drivers are distracted by everyday sights such as shops and pedestrians. Seeing a classic motor on the road is also named as a common distraction.

10. Other motorists driving with full beam

Around 48% of drivers, equivalent to 29 million, felt momentarily blinded by passing motorists in the last 12 months alone, a 2017 study found. Dazzled motorists lose their vision for an average of 2 seconds, making full beam a potentially fatal hazard at high speeds.

Tips to avoid distraction

From in-vehicle distractions like phones and noisy passengers, to external factors like pedestrians and dazzling lights, hazards can arise at any time. So, it’s vital to maintain your concentration behind the wheel.

Here are some simple steps you can take to stay focused on the road:

  • Clear your car of clutter
  • Set up your sat nav and plug it in before you set off
  • Put your phone in the glove box
  • Pre-set the radio
  • Set children up with quiet entertainment
  • Avoid heated discussions with passengers

Remember, if you need to take a call or change your navigation route, you must pull over before touching your devices.

Being caught using a handheld device on the road could see you lumbered with a £200 fine and six points on your licence.

So, there you have it…the top 10 most common driving distractions, now you know what to avoid, why not brush up on the current mobile phone driving laws to help you stay safe and on the right side of the law?

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