Distracted driving: 6 tips to help you eliminate distractions and focus on the road
Did you know that distracted driving is the number one cause of death on our roads, causing more fatalities than impaired driving or speeding?1 Using a phone while driving is four times more likely to cause a crash than if a driver’s sole focus is on the road.2 Whether you’re teaching a new driver the ropes or trying to break your own bad habits, these tips will help you block out distractions and keep our roads safe.
What counts as distracted driving?
In Alberta, if you are caught using a device with your hands to text, talk on the phone, check maps, choose a playlist, read or type a destination into a GPS, you could get charged with distracted driving, even while at a stoplight or stopped in traffic. Personal grooming, writing and sketching are also prohibited behind the wheel, and a pet cannot occupy the front seat of a vehicle in a way that interferes with your access to vehicle controls or obstructs your view.3 Although eating is not specifically restricted by Alberta’s distracted riving laws, if your driving is judged to be impaired by the act of eating you could be charged and ticketed.4 The penalties for distracted driving in Alberta include a fine of up to $300 and three demerit points.3
While driving, you may only operate devices with hands-free and/or voice activated commands, such as a cellphone with a Bluetooth earpiece or headset, GPS mounted to your dashboard, display screens in vehicles, and portable media players that have been plugged into the vehicle’s audio outlet and set prior to starting your drive.2 However, research has found that voice activated features on phones are actually more distracting as they are not intuitive and require a person to reference the screen to problem solve, so be careful even when using voice commands.5 Additionally, although your passengers are allowed to use their devices while you drive, if you as the driver are deemed to be distracted by the passenger in any way, including talking, you could be fined.4
Tips to avoid distracted driving
Although we all try to be safe drivers, devices are designed to draw our attention and distract us. Here are a few tips you can try out to help you eliminate distractions behind the wheel.
Input the destination into your GPS prior to starting your drive.
Activate your playlist before driving and have a passenger take control of the audio.
Silence your phone or switch it to flight/airplane mode while driving.
Put your phone in a place that is out of reach, such as your glovebox or the backseat.
Download a call blocking app. These apps block incoming texts and calls while you’re driving and can send out an automated response message for you. If you have an Apple device, you can use the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature that detects when you’re driving and blocks notifications.
If you must make a call, pull over safely to do so.
By following these tips, you can help keep yourself, your family and all Albertans safe on our roads. Additionally, having a driving record free of driving infractions for several years will get you significantly lower insurance rates.
If you have questions about your auto insurance policy or want to get a quote, call a TW Insurance broker at 1-888-338-2685.