It’s back-to-school season and that means it’s time to load up the carpool and prepare for the chaos that ensues. But today’s wired family often has many devices in use in the car, and they can cause distractions that may lead to fender benders and crashes. Fortunately, the people who see up close the damage caused by in-car diversions offer some tips for managing and avoiding them.
“We are in the business of fixing mistakes people make on the road,” said Dean Fisher, COO for CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts , North America’s largest network of collision repair facilities. “It used to be that all a driver had to distract themselves was an AM radio. Now, there are enough high-tech electronic gadgets onboard to pilot a space shuttle, and they can all diminish a driver’s concentration.”
Following these tips can substantially reduce the chance of a crash in the carpool lane and make the back-to-school commute less stressful for all involved.
· Adopt a strict no-text policy – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the risk of a crash is 23 times greater for people who are sending and receiving text messages while driving. Driving while texting has been compared to driving while intoxicated. Drivers can show their commitment to not texting while driving by visiting the CARSTAR and NABC program ItCanWait.com.
· Reduce the fight for the front – Siblings fighting for the front seat or personal space in the back are a major distraction. Set a schedule for who gets the front and define boundaries in the back. When fights erupt, pull over to address the situation.
· Limit or eliminate cell phone use while driving – Based on observations and crash data, the National Safety Council estimates that about one-fourth of all crashes can be attributed to distracted driving connected with use of a phone. If a passenger is on board, let that person conduct the conversation while you drive.
· Use a hands-free device, but only for necessary calls – Carnegie Mellon found a 37 percent decrease in the brain’s ability to judge spatial relationships (such as between the car at speed and other objects) when the driver concentrated on answering questions. This suggests that any phone conversation diminishes the driver’s reflexes behind the wheel.
· Program GPS receivers before starting a trip or errand – GPS devices are tremendously helpful on the road, especially those that call out the step-by-step directions. They are only useful, however, if the driver does not attempt to input information while in motion.
· Learn a car’s instruments and adjustments before leaving the driveway – Modern cars have dozens of buttons, switches and handles that might need activating while on the road, and a driver should be familiar with them to prevent distraction. Adjusting the windshield wipers, headlights, radio settings, climate controls and seat height, among others, can distract a driver long enough to cause an accident.
· Save eating and drinking for after the carpool –According to the NHTSA, a driver’s morning cup of coffee and muffin are almost as distracting as a cell phone conversation.
· Keep children and pets in approved seats or areas – Crash-test engineers have determined the safest placement for children of different sizes and ages in vehicles. Following applicable federal and state laws for restraint systems also reduces distraction while driving. Letting animals roam free inside a vehicle is not only a bad idea; it is illegal in some states.
“There are many ways to reduce the amount of dangerous distractions inside a vehicle,” said Fisher. “These tips address just a few that are easy for most people to correct. Anything a driver can do to concentrate on the road will greatly improve the chances of safe arrival.”
For more tips on driving and collision repair, visit www.carstar.com. CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts offers high-quality, reliable repair service in 30 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Contact 1-800-CARSTAR when you need a vehicle repair, and they will send a tow truck, contact your insurance company, arrange for a rental car and repair your car.