Driver distraction is a leading cause of collisions in Canada. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and HRM Partners in Policing are calling on drivers to eliminate distractions while driving and focus on driving safely. Here’s how:
Plan ahead. Read maps/set your GPS, determine your route and check traffic and weather conditions before getting on the road. Put on make-up, shave, put on your necktie, etc. before you start driving or after you reach your destination.
Get your vehicle road-ready. Adjust your seat, climate controls, sound system and GPS before you leave or while your vehicle is stopped. Keep your windshield clean and clear of obstructions.
Stow electronic devices. Hand-held cell phone use and text messaging while driving is prohibited in Nova Scotia and carries a fine starting at $169.91. Turn off your phone or put it well out of your reach before you drive so you won’t be tempted to break the law by using it while on the road.
It’s safest to avoid talking on a cell phone while driving but if you must answer/make calls, use a hands-free device and keep your hands on the wheel. If you don’t have a hands-free device, pull over to a safe place to talk. You must also pull over to send/receive text messages or emails.
Prepare your travelers. Buckle your kids in safely and get them settled in with snacks and/or entertainment before you get underway. If they need extra attention during the trip, pull off the road safely to care for them. You should also prepare and secure pets safety in your vehicle before you hit the road; pets shouldn’t be held on the driver’s lap or allowed to run free in your vehicle.
Snack safely. Eat meals and snacks before getting behind the wheel, or take a break from driving to eat and stretch if you’re driving a long distance.
Stash your stuff. Store your possessions that could roll around and/or shift while on the road, taking your attention from driving. Keep in mind that a loose object can become a projectile if you’re forced to stop suddenly.
Be focused and alert. Scan the road, use mirrors and prevent your mind from wandering. Being alert as to what’s happening on the road will help improve your overall awareness as a driver and reinforce good driving behaviours.