If you feel like you’re seeing more people driving distracted, you’re not alone. Today, drivers are not only talking and texting on their phones, but they are increasingly shooting videos, using social media, and typing out emails while behind the wheel. And, it’s not just phones that are distracting drivers these days. Pre-installed vehicle technology that promises to simplify our lives is taking people’s attention off the road like never before.
Sadly, distracted driving is resulting in some alarming statistics. According to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver inattention caused 3,166 deaths on the nation’s roads in 2017. That equates to roughly nine people per day. Among those who died as a result of these accidents were 599 pedestrians, bicyclists or others not in the vehicle with the distracted driver.
While you can’t control the actions of other motorists, knowing the warning signs to spot a distracted driver can help you avoid a crash or possibly minimize the severity of an accident:
Drifting or swerving from lane
Weaving through traffic
Following too closely
Sudden braking in reaction to normal traffic stops
Running red lights or stop signs
Stopping longer than necessary at a traffic light or sign
Driving much slower than the speed limit or flow of traffic
Driving much faster than the speed limit or flow of traffic
Needlessly changing speed.
Stay In Control
You’re less likely to be caught off guard if you remain aware of other drivers around you. Keep your eyes moving, check your mirrors frequently and scan conditions at least 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. If you witness any of the above behaviors from a driver with whom you’re sharing the road or if you spot another driver texting; talking on a cell phone; grooming themselves; reading a map; talking to passengers; reaching for something in the vehicle; smoking; or adjusting vehicle controls:
Be mindful that the driver may not see your vehicle
Give the driver a wide berth;
Try to pull ahead of the driver, or slow down and let them pull ahead;
Call 911 and report your concerns, if a driver is operating so dangerously that he/she poses an imminent threat to others.
Distracted drivers put not only themselves at risk, but everyone else on the road. By staying alert for distracted drivers and using proper defensive driving skills, you can help avoid the dangers caused by other motorists’ poor decisions.