Avoid distracted driving by letting others take the wheel

Carpools can be great tools to help reduce distracted driving accidents.

We hear a “ping” alerting us to a text, and we all know the feeling. We are tempted to look at our phones right away.

At home, it’s not a big deal to quickly grab our phone and read our texts or other notifications.

However, when driving, checking or responding to your texts or other notifications becomes a safety issue.  

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and accidents caused by drivers who do not fully focus on the road are becoming an “epidemic,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2021, distracted driving killed 3,522 people nationwide, according to the NHTSA. The National Safety Council says that at least eight people are killed every day in distracted driving crashes.

If you’re in the driver’s seat, driving is the only thing you should be doing. Otherwise, any distraction can be deadly for nearby drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists or roadway construction workers.

If you are easily distracted, you may instead want to let someone else do the driving. Public transportation may be one such alternative travel option for you to try.

While on the bus, you can also listen to music, make phone calls, check texts and emails, or do nothing at all. By attending to business you couldn’t do while driving, you can avoid the daily traffic grind and work ahead on some things to reduce your daily stress.

Another way to cut down on time spent behind the wheel is to join a carpool or vanpool. Like transit, sharing the ride gives you plenty of time to be a passenger, or you can take on some carpool duties such as managing music options on the radio or assisting with navigation when needed.

By ridesharing and reducing the number of days you are behind the wheel, you can save costs on gasoline and vehicle maintenance. Fewer vehicles on the road also means less energy consumption and traffic congestion, which leads to a reduction in air pollution.

When carpooling, here are some tips to avoid driver distractions:

  • Consult with each driver on music volume and what type of music to play to address driver preferences and what they may or may not find distracting.
  • Check to see if the driver prefers music, talk radio or a podcast.
  • As a group, determine what conversations are appropriate and if the driver would be distracted if passengers take a phone call.
  • Avoid showing the driver photos or other messages you receive on your phone.
  • Ask the driver if they would like you to read any texts they receive while enroute to the office.
  • Police each other’s behavior and gently remind them of your carpool rules.