Arriving safely at your destination when you get into a vehicle isn’t necessarily a given. Although people like to assume that they will get where they are going, motor vehicles are a major source of risk for both injuries and death to the average American. Engaging in harm reduction or defensive driving practices on the road can help you stay safe and reduce your personal risk of a crash.
You probably know that you should only drive when sober, alert and focused on the job of managing the vehicle. However, you can’t stop other people from getting behind the wheel while too exhausted or drunk to safely drive, nor can you prevent people from posting to social media or sending a text at the wheel. Since you can’t stop people from doing dangerous things, the next best option may be to try to identify those who increase your risk of a crash. Do you have any idea how to spot a distracted driver near you?
Mobile phones are a common source of driving distractions
Most people think only of cellphone use when they think of distracted driving, but distracted driving encompasses a much broader range of behaviors. Still, phone use while driving is arguably one of the most dangerous kinds of distraction, and it is one that many people think they can perform without as much risk as other drivers.
Spotting someone using their phone while driving is simple enough, provided that there’s enough light and their windows aren’t overly tinted or that it’s dark enough to see the light of the screen. Some people will have their phones visible in their hands. That is a clear sign that you should give them a wide berth on the road.
Others will have an ominous light coming up from their lap and their faces pointed downward, another warning sign of dangerous distraction. If you spot someone clearly using their phone on the road, giving them plenty of space or even turning off to drive on another road will help you stay as safe as possible.
Watch for distraction that doesn’t involve digital devices, too
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the only real distraction risk on the road is someone looking at a screen. There are numerous other kinds of distractions that can also keep someone from driving safely. If you spot somebody changing their clothing, shaving, applying make-up or eating, you want to give that driver as much space as possible.
Additionally, if you can tell someone is in the middle of a conversation or argument with other people in their vehicle or on their phone, that is another warning sign that they are more focused on something other than safety.