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When driving a vehicle in Ontario, you have a legal obligation to focus on the road and your surroundings. However, with so many things happening on the road at any given time, it’s difficult not to get distracted. Although there have been several studies that show people are limited in the amount of information they can process at any one time, Ontario drivers are still shifting their attention back and forth. This, in turn, causes more fatalities and accidents on the road. Let’s discuss tips to avoid distracted driving and how you can stay safe behind the wheel.

1. Use your phone/GPS prior to driving

Make all relevant calls, send texts and find appropriate addresses in your GPS prior to driving. Then, put your phone on silent to mitigate the risk of looking at it before arriving to your destination. If you do need to make a hands-free call (before driving), keep your conversations simple and avoid emotional or intense conversations. Even if you’re using a hands-free device, keep your focus, as you can still miss important audio and visual cues on the road.

2. Pull over, if necessary

If you’re behind the wheel and find yourself caught in an overwhelming situation, don’t hesitate to pull off of the road. Make sure you do so safely in order to mitigate the risk of getting in an accident.

3. Limit the number of passengers you have & level of activity in the car 

Driving with friends is not only dangerous for teenagers, but it can be dangerous for yourself and other drivers. Most people, both young and old, are more likely to focus on passengers in the vehicle and their conversations…not the road.

4. Don’t multi-task behind the wheel

If you drive in the GTA, you’re well aware that the majority of your time is spent in traffic. However, this is not the time to get other tasks done, search for music, call or text friends.

  • If you have children: Long car rides often make children grumpy and tired. If your child is misbehaving in the back seat and needs assistance, pull over (when safe to do so) to rectify the issue. Refrain from turning your head and taking your attention off the wheel.

5. Don’t eat and drive

Rummaging through take-out bags or opening the lid on your coffee is distracting. That means that both hands aren’t on the wheel and your eyes are likely not on the road. If you must eat in the car, park and eat, and resume driving once you’re done.

6. Don’t rubberneck

Rubbernecking when driving is “the act of slowing down while driving past the scene of something occurring outside your car.” Many drivers typically do this when passing by a car accident or a vehicle that’s been pulled over, which is a distraction. Not only does rubbernecking drastically slow down traffic, but it can also cause collisions.

7. Do personal grooming before you leave the house

Makeup, mascara and personal grooming should be done either before or after driving. Red lights and stop-and-go traffic is not the time for touch-ups.

8. Use hands-free communication technology

If you really need to contact someone while you’re driving, utilize voice-activated technology, such as Siri or hands-free Bluetooth.

9. Make sure your pets are safe and secure

If you are travelling with a pet, ensure they are safely secured in a harness or carrying case. Having an animal loose in the back of your vehicle can be incredibly dangerous and distracting, putting you (and your pet) in danger. Make sure you put your pets in the back and don’t allow them to sit on your lap. There are several crates and carriers on the market to avoid this.

10. Keep both hands on the wheel at all times

Driving can get tiring, especially if you are travelling a long way. It is very important to keep both hands on the wheel when in the car AT ALL TIMES. This way, no matter what happens on the road, you will be able to stay in control of your vehicle. 

It is always best to do everything you can to stay focused on the road until you reach your destination. We hope you keep our tips to avoid distracted driving top of mind every time you’re behind the wheel. If you have any questions about distracted driving and how it can affect your insurance rates, contact us to speak with one of our brokers. 

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