The use of cellular phones by drivers has increased at an alarming rate. The use of these devices is now regarded as the number 1 driver distraction – and regarded as more dangerous than drunk driving!
It is not only speaking on cellular phones that present a danger, but also sending and receiving text messages, downloading emails and browsing the internet etc. These dangers to road safety have been recognized by the developers of the Arrive Alive website – and we have included a section previously on “Avoiding distractions while driving”.
We have found that there has been a significant focus internationally on the dangers of texting while driving – and thought it might be worthwhile to give more exposure to this specific type of driver distraction. We have developed a new section titled “Texting and Driver Distraction” on the Arrive Alive website and provided a summary of much of the information available from research at present. What we did not discuss is “How to prevent these distractions in the vehicle”.
This may sound silly – as the easy answer is merely “Don’t!!” – but perhaps we do need to provide a few pointers:
• Always remember to look after Number 1 first – and YOU are number 1 – if you are serious about your safety, you will act responsibly!
• If you are a law abiding citizen – The Road Traffic Act in South Africa stipulates that operating a cellular device while driving is against the Law!
• Ask yourself – “How important in the greater scheme of things can this call or text message be?” “Would it change my life if I text this message or make the call or return call half an hour from now?”
• Plan in advance! Tell colleagues at work that you will be on the road for a significant period of time – and might not be able to answer calls or communicate with them.
• You need to stop for a rest break or refilling stop anyway – use that opportunity to make calls or send text messages!
• If you have a passenger in the car – ask this person to answer and tell the caller that you will return the call later.
Always focus on safety! You are not putting only your life in danger, but also the lives of other road users. Ask yourself – “would I like to see my wife or child travelling on a road where the driver of the oncoming vehicle is busy texting a message on his phone?” If the answer is NO – the family of the people in the vehicle approaching you might wish for you to avoid doing so as well!!