13 April 2018

IAM identifies the five major in-vehicle distractions

Driving safely requires total concentration and while there are numerous distractions outside a vehicle - such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes as well as advertising and road signs - there are also potential distractions inside.

Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, advises drivers to “try to minimise any distractions within the car”.

He continued: “If you do need to make a telephone call or make adjustments to the settings of the vehicle, find somewhere to pull over safely and do it at your leisure. Being distracted can lead to errors in judgement and may result in a collision or at best, a close call. Why take the chance?”

Five items inside a vehicle that could cause a distraction while driving are:

  • Smoking and vaping. There are legal restrictions on smoking in vehicles. If you do smoke or vape, this could be a distraction. What if you drop it? Where would your focus be? And have you thought about how the smoke from your vape could get in the way of the road?
  • As helpful as technology can be, it can also lead to less focus on the road. For example, a sat-nav can tempt a driver to take a quick glance at the map. To avoid taking your eye off the road, keep your sat-nav out of sight and listen to the instructions rather than looking. It always helps to plan a route beforehand. If you need to adjust it, pull into a safe place to do so.
  • Food and drink. Eating or drinking in a vehicle slows down reaction times. It’s better to take a short break to consume food; this way drivers don’t have one hand off the steering wheel, so there’s no opportunity to be distracted.
  • Phones/radio/CDs. Music can become a distraction when you’ve put the volume too high which can prevent you from hearing any key sounds, such as emergency services. Either turn it off or lower the volume so you are still aware of your surroundings.
  • Car ancillaries - indicators, lights, windscreen wipers etc. When using these while driving and perhaps being unfamiliar with the location of the controls, attention is not 100% on the road. Even worse, drivers can sometimes take their eyes of the road for a split second or two. Learn where the controls are to minimise distraction, so you can operate them as safely as possible.