Staying focused when driving isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Plenty of things can distract you during driving, to the point that your attention wavers and you get into, or cause, an accident.
Be aware of things that may distract you – smartphone, a terrific-sounding sound system, a yappy companion, thinking of the work you have to do, pets or children. Even a momentary distraction like a pretty face or an object of desire on the sidewalk can be enough to get you into an accident.
Nowadays, the culprit most responsible for distracted driving accidents is the smartphone. Texting on your phone is almost as bad as drunken driving, as your focus is removed from the task at hand, which is driving the vehicle and being aware of things around you.
Staying focused means having a high degree of situational awareness. And it is very different from being simply wide awake. You may be wide awake but unaware of a car or bike coming up on your blind spot, and then decide to make a lane change. Boom.
A great tip from a professional truck driver is to read out signs you see on the road – road signs, license plates, car makes, signs beside the road. Although this sounds silly, what it does is it trains your mind to continually scan the road. In time, this habit of being conscious of things on the road will be inbred, and you will become a more focused driver.
It is also important that we are predictable on the road, so that drivers of vehicles around your car can get a sense of what you are about to do, or if they themselves are clear to execute a maneuver. Showing predictability and intent on the road is not just common sense, it signals to others that there is a responsible driver behind the wheel.
Be aware that we tend to relax when we are in familiar places, eg. nearing our home or place of work. We tend to let our guard down, thinking we’re home safe and look forward to that next task, or having that beer or glass of wine as soon as we settle down. Relax when you’ve switched off your engine and have stepped out of the car. Not before.
Staying focused on the road is not difficult. But it requires a conscious effort to ensure that you, your loved ones, and those around you are not involved in an accident due to you zoning out.