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Driving: How to Keep a Clear Mind and Avoid Distractions

By: Catherine Burrows - Updated: 3 Oct 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Clear Mind Distractions

Loss of concentration when driving can have catastrophic results. Government and official statistics consistently identify distraction as the main cause of many road traffic accidents and fatalities. It’s very simple - safe driving means keeping a clear mind, enabling you to concentrate on the road ahead. It’s possible to buy in-car devices that monitor driver alertness but although they are a good idea, it’s easy to address the main threats to good driving yourself.

In-Car Equipment

Cars have become mobile offices or an extension of the home, fitted with gadgets to keep you in touch or make sure that you find the best route through the traffic. Sadly, they also pose huge threats to a clear mind.

Using a hand-held mobile is illegal but even if you use a hands-free model, you are statistically 4 times more likely to experience an accident as a result.

Before you start your journey, make any calls you need to make and send anybody who’s likely to try contacting you a message to let them know you are travelling and you will contact them later. Switch your phone off or put it in silent mode, even the sound of ringing could cause a distraction.

Make sure you adjust in-car devices before you move - select a radio station, adjust MP3 players and programme sat navs. Try to keep volumes low enough so they don’t blot out sounds from the road outside. Driving is about making use of most of your senses and sound is an important one.

Passengers

Of course, we all need to carry passengers from time to time or all of the time. Let them know you need a clear mind. Before setting out, ensure that children and animals are all safely secured and have to hand everything they may need during the journey. Think ahead, even if it means checking that children (or even older passengers!) won’t need to make an emergency stop at a toilet. The trick is to deal with emergency situations before they even happen. It will reduce your stress levels and rid you of a big source of distraction.

Physical and Emotional Fitness

Being a driver is a responsibility. You need to keep yourself safe, your passengers safe and other road users safe. Making sure you are physically and emotionally fit is incredibly important. There are the obvious measures you can take like ensuring that you aren’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Try to make sure you are fully hydrated, this is so important to aid concentration. School children routinely take water bottles to school with them since research concluded that plenty of water was a prime concentration boost. Food is important too, the last thing you need is fluctuating blood sugar levels. Remember, a healthy body equals a clear mind.

With today’s hectic pace of life, fatigue and lack of sleep are major distractions. You should be well rested and if you start to feel tired or slip into a ‘hypnotic’ mode, find somewhere safe to stop and rest until you feel refreshed.

Do not drive if you are battling with any emotional crises. Your mood will alter the way you drive. When you are angry, confused or distressed you are more likely to lose your concentration. If you have any concerns or issues, make a list before you travel. Those items will still be there, on paper, to be dealt with once you have got the important job of driving out of the way.

Driver Complacency or Over-Familiarity

Too many drivers are complacent and over confident. How many times have you heard drivers admit they’ve undertaken a car journey and yet can’t remember a single detail? This is one of the toughest distractions to deal with but there are a few ways you can begin to tackle the issue.

Start by making a conscious decision to notice your habits and the way you drive. Question and observe every manoeuvre you make. Take particular note of your environment and keep doing this on every journey you make until your active consciousness is an established habit.

Knowledge and Preparation

Being ready and prepared for your travels will give you a clear mind and make you a better driver. There’s nothing worse than not knowing where you are going. Look at maps, check route directions and set your sat nav if you have one.

Driving with a clear mind and without distraction is the best way to increase your chances of arriving at your destination safely. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity and all these ideas should be implemented as part of your journey. You owe this to yourself and anybody else who is sharing the road with you.

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