Keep the Carpool Calm this School Year

School is back in full Swing! Let’s keep the distractions to a minimum when driving please.

Drivers must deal with many more distractions today than they did a decade ago, and those attention-stealers are often responsible for crashes that cost money and lives. Fortunately, the people who see up close the damage caused by in-car diversions have put together some tips for managing and avoiding them.

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Following these tips can substantially reduce the chance of a crash and make a trip less stressful for all involved.

  • Adopt a strict no-text policy – According to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the risk of a crash is 23 times greater for people who are sending and receiving text messages while driving. A car traveling at 55 miles per hour will cover the length of a football field during the 4.6 seconds it takes to type or receive a message. Driving while texting has been compared to driving while intoxicated. The beauty of a text message is that it will be waiting for you when there is time to pull over and read it. Drivers can show their commitment to not texting while driving by visiting the CARSTAR and NABC
  • Limit or eliminate cell phone use while driving – A study by Australia’s Monash University Accident Research Centre found that the use of handheld devices such as a cell phone increases crash and injury potential by 400 percent. If a passenger is on board, let that person conduct the conversation while you drive.
  • Use a hands-free device, but only for necessary calls – Carnegie Mellon used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to view brain activity of people answering a series of true/false questions while simulating driving on a computer screen. They found a 37 percent decrease in the brain’s ability to judge spatial relationships (such as between the car at speed and other objects) when the “driver” concentrated on answering questions. This information suggests that any conversation with a person not in the passenger compartment diminishes the driver’s reflexes behind the wheel.
  • Program GPS receivers before starting a trip or errand – Portable and in-dash GPS devices are tremendously helpful for getting us where we want to go, especially those that call out the step-by-step directions. They are only useful, however, if the driver does not attempt to input information while in motion. Most GPS devices display a legal warning against this action before they can be used.
  • Learn a car’s instruments and adjustments before leaving the driveway – Modern cars have dozens of buttons, switches and handles that might need activating while on the road, and a driver should be familiar with them to prevent distraction. Adjusting the windshield wipers, headlights, radio settings, climate controls, seat height, steering wheel angle and emergency flashers can distract a driver long enough to cause an accident.
  • Save eating and drinking for the rest stop – Americans have perfected the art of eating and driving, which is why cars designed for the U.S. market often have more cup holders than seats. According to the NHTSA, a driver’s morning cup of coffee and muffin are almost as distracting as a cell phone conversation.
  • Keep children and pets in approved seats or areas – Crash-test engineers have determined the safest placement for children of different sizes and ages in vehicles. Following applicable federal and state laws also reduces a parent’s chance of distraction while driving because the child is less likely to get injured or into trouble in a moving car if restrained. Letting animals roam free inside a vehicle is not only a bad idea; it is illegal in some states as legislators crack down on distracted driving.


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