Distracted driving is a serious problem that jeopardizes the safety of everyone on the road. Drivers and passengers alike can fall victim to the dangers of texting and driving and, yet, while the solution is as simple as putting your phone away while you’re driving, countless people still choose to risk their lives and the lives of others by texting while behind the wheel.
Texting and driving are extremely dangerous and, as smartphones are becoming increasingly integral parts of our lives, the problem continues to grow. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving results in approximately 1.6 million crashes annually. Each year, almost 390,000 injuries occur during accidents caused by texting while driving. The dangers of texting and driving are all too real, but millions of people still choose to reach for their phones while they are behind the wheel.
While you can pledge not to use your phone while driving, there is little you can do to control the actions of other drivers. Texting is six times more likely to cause an accident than drinking and driving, though, so knowing how to avoid those dangerous drivers who are glued to their phones behind the wheel is vital. How can you avoid dangerous drivers when you’re on the road? Here are a few things you can do.
Failing to pay attention to your surroundings can be just as dangerous as texting while driving. In fact, texting, eating, and even just zoning out while on the road all fall into the “distracted driving” category. While this should go without saying, it’s extremely important to pay attention while driving.
In addition to being mindful of what you are doing on the road, being alert means that you will be more likely to avoid an accident with another driver who is texting or otherwise distracted.
Keep your eyes peeled for tell-tale signs of distracted driving, including erratic movements, speeding, dangerous lane changes, etc. If you notice any such behavior, watch the vehicle carefully, and stay out of its way. Slow down to put some distance between yourself and the other vehicle.
Use Extra Caution at Intersections
Accidents can happen anywhere, but texting-related collisions tend to be especially common at intersections. Distracted drivers often fail to notice stop signs and traffic lights and cruise right on through. Take your time when approaching an intersection. Look both ways and yield to oncoming traffic—even if you have the right-of-way. Watching someone blow through an intersection is frustrating, but it is always best to be cautious and let the distracted driver pass by.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
Just about everyone thinks they are a great driver. Unfortunately, many people are not. Enrolling in a defensive driving course helps you learn valuable skills that can enable you to avoid accidents. In some states, these courses are required by law for new drivers. Even if you are not required to take one, though, doing so is a great way to learn how to safely avoid dangerous drivers.
Defensive driving classes aim to teach students how to prevent car accidents by anticipating dangerous situations and adjusting behaviors when behind the wheel. Students are taught things like safe following distances, right-of-way, scanning the roadway for dangerous drivers and environmental hazards, and more.
The course also teaches drivers how to avoid crashes based on the driving techniques presented. While there isn’t anything you can do to make other people drive safely, taking a defensive driving course is one of the best ways to improve your own skills so you can avoid accidents while people who engage in dangerous activities—like texting—while driving.
Don’t Be a Silent Passenger
If you are riding with someone who is using his or her phone behind the wheel, speak up. Your life is literally in the driver’s hands, and you have every right to let the person know that you are not comfortable with the driver texting.
Be direct. Say you get nervous when riding with someone who texts and drives. If you’d rather take a subtler approach, offer to type messages for the driver, or say something like, “There are a lot of cops out today. You probably shouldn’t be texting.” Make mention of how many accidents are caused by distracted drivers. Say whatever you need to say to get the driver to stop using their phone.
If someone you are riding with scoffs at your feelings and refuses to stop texting, don’t get angry or argue. Adding road rage to a texting and driving situation is never a good idea. Instead, get out of the vehicle as soon as possible and refuse to ride with that driver in the future.
Texting and driving is a serious problem on American roadways. By being a cautious driver and an outspoken passenger, however, you can reduce your risk of being involved in a distracted-driving-related automobile accident.