Stay Safe on the Roadways - Don't Drive Distracted

Author: Dabney Weems

Gov. Roy Cooper proclaimed April Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to the non-driving activities that can take our eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or interrupt our concentration. While drivers texting is the leading cause of distracted driving incidents, there are other risky activities that are just as dangerous. Any action that causes a driver’s eyes or attention to shift from the road is considered distracted driving, including eating or drinking, putting on makeup, adjusting the radio volume or even engaging with other passengers in the vehicle. Let’s go over some tips we all can use to reduce distractions while driving – and make the roadways safer for everyone.

Reduce cell phone use

Texting or checking email on your phone while driving is against the law. If you are found in violation, it is a $100 fine or worse – it could result in a crash. For those under 18 and who operate a school bus, North Carolina prohibits the use of a cell phone PERIOD.

Utilize technology to keep your eyes on the road. Vehicles now come with map displays installed in the dashboard and cell phone integration with the radio. Use the built-in technology to help keep your eyes on the road and avoid distractions.

Designate a co-pilot

If there are others in the car with you, ask one of them to be a designated co-pilot for you. They can help reduce distractions by checking your texts and emails or even assisting with children in the vehicle. 

Let your designated co-pilot help navigate, too. They can help with the map, look for turns or program the dashboard map. Never look at maps while the car is in motion; it is a distraction. Speak up if you are a passenger riding with a distracted driver and offer to assist with any non-driving tasks while traveling. Holding a driver accountable is an important step to ensuring you arrive at your destination safely.

If you are driving alone, periodically pull over and stop, to check your phone, program your map or help children.

Secure loose items

Loose items in your vehicle such as luggage, trash, shopping bags, children’s toys, etc. can be a distraction while driving. They can shift while the car is moving and become a distraction and also become projectiles in a crash. Always take the time to clean out and remove unnecessary items from your vehicle. Secure large or heavy items that could be harmful during a collision. 

Move over law 

North Carolina’s “Move Over Law” requires motorists, if they can safely do so, to move one lane away from law enforcement or other emergency vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road. Moving away from stopped vehicles helps to keep everyone safe. 

Stay alert

Perhaps most importantly is staying alert behind the wheel. Driving demands undivided attention. Know your limits. Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to help yourself alert and focused. Get plenty of rest before long trips. Finally, if you are getting tired, PLEASE, pull over and rest.

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