We understand that your family’s safety is your top priority, especially when it comes to driving. April marks an important observance for all of us on the road—Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This month, we want to share some insights and practical tips to ensure that every journey, whether to school, work, or play, is as safe as possible.

Understanding Distracted Driving

Distracted driving includes any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road. This can include talking or texting on a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to people or pets in the vehicle, or changing settings on the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system.

Being on your phone while driving is often considered the most alarming distraction, as it fully takes your eyes off of the road. If you look away for 5 seconds while going 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. Not only can texting and driving result in fines and penalties, but it also significantly increases the risk of serious accidents and injuries.

The Impact on Families

For families, the stakes are even higher. With little ones on board, distracted driving poses a severe risk not only to the driver but to all passengers. Accidents caused by distractions can lead to traumatic and expensive trips to the emergency room, or long-term injuries that could affect your family’s quality of life.

Safe Driving WFMC Health

Tips for Safer Driving

Here are some practical steps you can take to be sure you and your loved ones stay safe on the road:

  • Make a Family Pact: Commit as a family to keep the phones down and distractions away while driving. Setting a good example for your children is crucial, especially as they grow up and become drivers themselves.
  • Use Technology Wisely: Many smartphones and vehicles come with features designed to minimize distractions, such as do-not-disturb settings and hands-free calling systems. Use these tools to your advantage.
  • Plan Ahead: Set your GPS destination before you start driving, and if you’re traveling with kids, double check that they have everything they need before you hit the road to reduce mid-drive interruptions.
  • Take Breaks: On longer trips, plan for regular stops to check your phone, eat, or switch drivers if necessary. This not only minimizes the urge to multitask but also helps to keep the driver alert and focused.
  • Educate Your Teen Drivers: If you have teenagers that are about to start driving, talk to them about the importance of focused driving. Encourage them to set a positive example for their peers by avoiding distractions at the wheel. Have them get in the habit of turning off their notifications and putting their phone in the center console or glovebox while driving.

As we observe Distracted Driving Awareness Month, let’s remind ourselves of the responsibility we bear each time we get behind the wheel. By choosing to drive without distractions, we’re not only protecting ourselves but also our families and other people on the road.

This article is meant for informational purposes only. If you have questions or would like further information, make an appointment with your primary care provider.

This blog post was first published on WFMCHealth.org.