Deleting Driver Distractions

These days we welcome more and more technology into our cars in the hopes that they make our journeys easier, faster or more entertaining. However – as 2018’s Road Safety Week reminds us, we need to take a “belt on, phone off” approach in our vehicles to minimise distractions and keep ourselves and our passengers safe.

Along with using phones, key driving distractions can include , reaching for objects, using hand-held GPS devices, eating and drinking, smoking, sun glare, personal grooming and using entertainment systems.

So how do we stop things from distracting us behind the wheel? It’s easy to get complacent on the road, especially during peak-hour traffic, where the majority of fatal and serious injury crashes involving driver distraction happen.

A lot of these distractions can be eliminated by doing them before starting the car. But when it comes to our phones, it can feel harder to put them out of our minds and away from our hand’s reach.

In stats released by NZTA in 2016, it was proven that drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident, and that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for around 4.6 seconds – that’s like driving the length of a rugby field at 90km/h… blindfolded!

With the iPhone’s latest update, you can turn on a feature called “do not disturb while driving” – where the phone can automatically detect that it’s in a moving vehicle and activates a mode that autoreplies to texts, mutes text and ring tones and keeps the screen off. Settings can be changed to allow certain contacts to get through, or messages if an “urgent” is replied to the auto-response.

For parents of young drivers, it might give you peace of mind knowing you can activate this feature on your child’s phone and set it up so you’re the only one able to turn it off.

While our cars are full of features to help reduce the force of an impact (or avoid it completely) and keep us safe inside, ultimately it’s up to the driver and passengers to ensure distractions don’t hamper our ability to drive as safely as possible.