Take a look at the eyes in the cars around you the next time you’re at a stoplight. Where are they looking? One would hope the windshield, but the reality is that more and more people are distracted while driving.
The on-demand world we live in today has us wired to be in the know with what’s happening around us at all times. Many of us experience the fear of missing out (#FOMO) on everything from national breaking news to knowing the second a child arrives safely at a friend’s house.
There’s a reason we’re addicted to our mobile phones. We get a spike of dopamine, a neurochemical in the brain, when we hear our devices ring and ding. Just those sounds are enough to make us feel happy and want to reach for the message.
The problem, however, is that the desire for that fix has people texting, reading and tapping into social media while driving – whether at a stop light or going full speed down the highway. This, according to a real-world test by Car and Driver, is more dangerous than drunk driving. The study shows that drivers who are engrossed in their phones have reaction times that are even slower than drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. A terribly scary thought.
So because April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Health Net encourages you to take a second look at your driving habits. The following are some things you can do today to help keep yourself, your family – and everyone else – safe while on the road.
- Join the It Can Wait community and commit to taking the pledge. You’ll promise to keep your eyes on the road and off your device.
- Ask the teen drivers in your household to download the DriveMode app for their iPhone. It silences texts while the car is on, and then responds automatically to the messages saying that he or she is driving. If your teen turns the app off, you get notified.
- Start your day earlier. Just 15 extra minutes in the morning can eliminate distractions in the car. Put makeup on in the bathroom mirror instead of the car mirror. Eat breakfast at home instead of on the go. Text and respond to email before heading out the door. Not only will you feel less rushed, but you’ll be more aware of where you are in the moment.
- Keep the conversation going. Check out distraction.gov, follow @NHTSAgov on Twitter and use #JustDrive regularly when reminding yourself and others about keeping behind the wheel.
Your life is worth more than the perfect emoji or a swipe of eyeshadow. Remember, if you have children in the car, they are watching your every move, and they’re depending on you to keep them safe.