When you drive, your two hands, your eyes and ears should be focused on controlling your car. Not on texting, not on eating, not on the latest drum ‘n’ bass download. All these things distract you from driving.
“It’s only for a second,” you might think. Well, you only need to miss the wrong second – when a child suddenly runs into the road, for instance – to end up in jail or write off your car.
“People do need to be aware of what’s going on around them and they need to be thinking about driving,” says Formula One world champion Jenson Button. “If their minds wander, that can be dangerous. When I am driving, I am concentrating.”
Top five distractions and how to avoid them:
1. Mobile phone If you answer your mobile – hands free or not – while driving, you are four times more likely to crash than if you ignore it.
The fine for using a mobile while driving is £60 and a possible £1000 in court, plus three points on your licence. Using your hand-held phone while waiting at traffic lights is also banned.
TIP: Turn your phone to silent before you set off, or get a hands-free kit.
2. Music Changing the station, fiddling with your iPod… it all takes your attention away from where it should be: on the road. You can go to prison for using an MP3 player at the wheel.
TIP: Sort out a playlist before you set off.
3. Mates Teenagers are three times more likely to have a fatal crash if they are travelling with a group of friends in the car. The temptation to turn around or look in the rear-view mirror to check what your mates are getting up to in the back, does not make you drive safely.
TIP: Be firm and ask your pals to shut it before they get too noisy. Give them a reason they can respect: they’re making the journey dangerous.
4. Food Don’t eat when you’re driving. Feeding your face distracts you and leaves you with no hands free to swerve clear of disaster.
Tip: Avoid the drive-through.
5. Dates Did you know that women judge fellas on driving ability? Yep. And they have a point: the leading cause of death among teenage girls is being killed when their boyfriends are driving. Speeding to the cinema at 100mph ain’t hot.
TIP: Keep your hands on the wheel.