There are enough risks on the road without drivers adding another one to the list. Unfortunately, distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of road accidents in Australia, and could spell the end of your novated lease vehicle.
Obviously we don't want that to happen, so let's take a closer look at distracted driving, uncover some home truths and consider some ways you can stay focused on the road – for the good of you, pedestrians and all other road users.
What is distracted driving
There are nearly countless ways to become distracted on the road, though we can split these up into four types:
A physical distraction could be an insect in the car, an uncomfortable seating position or the driver holding something while behind the wheel. Visual distractions are particularly common, with mobile phones vying for our attention and things out of the window taking a driver's focus off the road ahead.
Auditory distraction limit one of your keenest senses – your hearing – and could come in the form of loud music or a screaming child in the back seat. Finally, cognitive distractions are a little harder to limit, as they're the things whizzing around your head that take your mind away from your driving duties.
93 per cent of Australian drivers own a mobile phone and 59 per cent reported using theirs behind the wheel.
What are the dangers?
It's easy to imagine how damaging one of these distractions can be, regardless of whether you're travelling at 10 km/h or bounding down the highway. However, the faster you go, the more distance you will travel without paying your full attention to the road.
For instance, if you're driving at 100 km/h and glance at your phone for one second, you will travel 28 metres without casting an eye on the road. How long does it take to read the average text message? Four seconds? On the highway, you will have travelled 112 metres as if you were blindfolded – enough to drive across most of the MCG.
On top of the risk to a driver's life and that of others around them, there are often financial penalties handed out by police in different states for using a mobile phone.
What are the most common distractions?
Mobile devices are becoming a focus area for reducing the effects of distracted driving. The Queensland Police notes that 93 per cent of Australian drivers own a mobile phone and 59 per cent reported using theirs behind the wheel.
However, it's not the only risk, despite Allianz finding it is the most common. Other attention-grabbing driving distractions include:
- Food and drink
- Sun glare
- The radio
How can you avoid distracted driving
It's not easy, but if you find you're attention is easily diverted when driving your novated lease vehicle, there are some good habits you can get into, and some tips for when you feel your focus begin to drop.
1) Physical distractions: Be sure never to drive with your hands full, find a comfortable seating position before you start driving and check for any thing that may start to physically distract you before setting off.
2) Visual distractions: Put your phone away before you begin your journey, or try turning it off it you are prone to temptation. If you receive a call that you must take, pull up and park your car somewhere safe to answer or call the person back.
3) Auditory distractions: A crying child might be difficult to ignore, so make time during your journey to park up and deal with problems should they arise. The radio is one of the biggest aural attention-grabbers, too, so make sure you can still hear your car and the world around you when playing music.
4) Cognitive distractions: It can be difficult to clear your mind, but doing so can make you more aware of what's going on around you – it could even save your life. Again, if you feel tired, anxious or like your mind is heavily on something else, take a break during your journey.
After all, you won't want the worse to happen to you or your beautiful new novated lease vehicle. All the savings you made by salary sacrificing could soon be lost in an instant if you're prone to distraction.