Here’s How You Can Become a Better Driver

Because leading busy lives is no excuse for distracted driving

In this age of increased connectivity, it’s hard to put the phone away even when on the road. But distracted driving goes beyond the screen. Doing your makeup, constantly changing the radio station, and even reaching for the bag of fries require a combination of visual, manual, and/or cognitive attention, which can put off your focus. 

Earn your responsible driver badge with these tips. 

Make Sure You’re Ready and Comfortable
With the challenging state of our transport system, most of us spend a lot of time inside the car and on the commute. For the most part, we tend to finish our routines inside the vehicle in the hope of avoiding rush hour or when we simply don’t have the time any more. Some put on their makeup, while others opt to finish their meals on the way. While it may seem convenient, juggling coffee or having one eye on the road while the other on a mirror as you apply lipstick is definitely a recipe for disaster. Finish everything you have to do at home before you hop in and drive—or do them after when you’re safely in your office. 

Check Your Car’s Controls
Before you put that gear shift in drive, do a quick check on your car and ensure everything’s functioning properly. Take the time to adjust your seat, mirrors, temperature settings, and radio station. 

Pro-tip: Try curating playlists, so you’ll never need to waste your focus on skipping songs and scanning through every station. Also, plan your route before you go. Program your navigation system beforehand or ask someone to be in charge of the directions so you don’t have to fiddle with them during the commute. (Waze is key!) 

Put Your Phone Away
At this point, it’s almost second nature to check our phones. Mobile devices have become a huge distraction and yet many of us are guilty of using them despite the risks involved and the fact that it’s illegal. Reduce the temptation by putting your phone on silent mode or better yet, put it inside your bag or somewhere that’s difficult to access like the backseat. If you really need to make a call or respond to a message, then pull over instead.

If you’re using a navigation app, use voice directions, instead of relying on the screen for visual navigation. 

Pull Over If You’re Tired or Sleepy,
Before you get in the car, make sure that you’re well rested, especially if your destination is hours away. Fatigue and sleepiness if hard to fight off, so if drowsiness hits, park in a regulated area and get a few minutes of shut-eye. If you can, opt for daytime travel to reduce the chances of nodding off. It also helps to have another person in the car that you can switch driving duties with. Don’t try to get home faster, because you might not even make it if you get involved in an accident. 

Secure Your Passengers
If you have traveling companions, make sure they’re aware of your commitment to focused driving. Having friends over can sometimes get rowdy, so if they can help it, keep the noise to a minimum. If you have kids in the car with you, make sure they’re in proper seats and keep them occupied. In this way, you avoid having to answer their incessant questioning or getting into a fight with them. Travelling with your pets goes the same way. Secure them in the backseat, because you don’t want them roaming freely in the front seat, blocking your view, or bumping into the front wheel. In addition, the event of a crash, they’re safer if properly restrained.