Summer is the time for relaxing by the pool, staying up late and sitting by the fire outside, family vacations, and epic road trips with memories to last a lifetime. But did you know that summer is also the time where distracted driving spikes? We’re pretty much all guilty of multitasking in the car at one point or another – applying lipstick on your way to work, trying to eat while driving, looking up locations on your GPS, and the worst offender… TEXTING WHILE DRIVING!
With the roads quickly becoming congested as schools let out over the next few weeks, and vacations in full swing, it’s especially important to keep your eyes on the road at ALL TIMES. Not only do you need to be a safe driver, but you need to watch out for other distracted drivers on the road.
What can you do as a driver? Here’s how to reduce your risk of distracted driving:
PUT AWAY THAT PHONE!!!
If your phone is out, you’ll be tempted to grab it at the first beep it makes. Texting can wait, Facebook can wait, and Instagram selfies can wait, too. But what if you’re stopped at a red light? Please don’t check your phone! You may miss when the light turns green, causing the chance of an accident. Either turn your phone to silent (or OFF – you’ll survive, we promise!) or stash it in your bag and wait until you can pull over to answer your messages.
DON’T TEXT OTHERS IF YOU KNOW THEY’RE DRIVING
This one is nice and easy. You don’t want to be distracted while driving, so don’t distract others you know are on the road. Tell them ahead of time to let you know when they make it to their destination safely and then you can continue your conversation.
STAY FOCUSED ON THE ROAD AT ALL TIMES
Road trips are LONG and we know you get hungry – and that’s exactly what rest stops are for. Save the snacking for the rest stop or the passenger seat. Hot coffee and messy snacks do not make for easy driving. The radio can also be distracting, especially when you can’t find anything good and have to keep thumbing through the stations. Why not get the family involved and create a special road trip mix before you go? Each person can pick out a few of their favorite songs to add on. That way you can keep your eyes on the road AND avoid music complaints from the back seat!
PLAN YOUR TRIP BEFORE YOU GO
What would we do without GPS, right? While it’s a wonderful invention, it’s one that can easily distract. Get yourself familiar with your route before you leave, and if you’re still relying on GPS (I know I can’t remember directions for the life of me!), turn the sound on to avoid less screen time. When I got my new car last year and tried to add a route while stopped (shame on me), I realized it locked me out. THANK YOU NEW CARS FOR KEEPING US SAFE! I have to be in park to even start using my GPS. It’s a much needed reminder, and I’m very thankful for it.
And we mean everything – kids, pets, beach chairs, luggage. Make sure everything is stowed according to guidelines. Place bags where they won’t have a chance of sliding and remember to keep your view out the back window clear AT ALL TIMES. Make sure infants and young children are buckled properly into their carseats. The same goes for dogs, cats, and other furry friends! Fido may be cute on your lap, but not so much if he starts jumping around in the front. It may seem silly to even remind you to store everything properly, but there is SO MUCH to remember when you’re packing for a big trip. It’s easy to forget the simplest things. We’ve been there!
BE WHO YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO BE
This is a BIG ONE, folks. If your kids see you texting while driving, they’ll think it’s ok to do the same. And it’s not. What would you never want to see your new driver doing in the car? Make a list and MAKE SURE you’re doing the same!
We don’t mean to preach, but O’Brien Insurance wants to make sure that our clients are driving safely – avoiding accidents, being on the lookout for other distracted drivers, and keeping eyes on the road at all times. Insurance rates are GOING UP (you probably remember us telling you that a few months ago), and a large part of the rate hike is, sadly, due to distracted driving – more distracted drivers, more people on their cellphones behind the wheel, and more accidents. The likelihood of you getting into an accident is 23 times (you heard that right) greater while texting, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A ten second text can change everything. Just don’t do it!
Quick recap: PREPARE ahead for your big trip to ease the stress and distraction while out on the road, AVOID distractions while driving, and be PROACTIVE when you see other distracted drivers out on the road.
We hope that you all have some amazing trips with friends and loved ones this Summer. Get there safe, stay as long as you can, and make memories to bring home with you. And don’t be shy – tell us all about your big trip, we’d love to hear! Be sure to download our mobile app before you go so you can take us on the road 24/7, and reach out if you need any extra insurance for your travels.
Bon Voyage, from O’Brien Insurance!