If you spend just two seconds glancing away from the road when driving at 60km/h, you're effectively driving blind for 33 metresi. We look at 10 common excuses for losing concentration behind the wheel.
1. Mobile phones
We use our mobile phones for everything: calls, messaging, email, Internet, games, and even as a GPS. Mobile phone use while driving has become such a problem that there are now strict laws in place in Australian states to control their use.
2. Food and drink
It can be hard to resist pinching a few chips after going through a drive-through restaurant, but some drivers will attempt to eat an entire meal with one hand on the wheel. Messy and not the best for digestion, it's also a distraction on the road and can make the eater/driver reckless - research from the US suggests that eating a cheeseburger while driving can be more hazardous than talking on a mobile phone while drivingii.
3. ... But especially coffee
A morning caffeine fix in (most likely) stop-start traffic is a recipe for disaster, with tongues and laps most vulnerable to burns from scalding hot coffee spills. Drivers aren't the only offenders with this one - last year a Brisbane commuter had an accident trying to drink coffee while cyclingiii!
If you must bring a hot drink into the car, it's worth looking into a no-spill travel mug that you can store in a secure cup holder. Even better, get one that keeps your drink hot so that it will be at optimal drinking temperature once you've arrived.
4. Pets in the car
Few pets stay still in a moving vehicle, and it can be very distracting for anyone in the front seat. Getting your pet as comfortable as possible and having appropriate restraints within the car can prevent your furry friend from distracting you. There are laws in place about travelling in cars with pets, so make sure that you're familiar with these before setting off.
5. Kids in the car
Squabbling or bored children can be equally distracting. It doesn't matter how short or long the drive, it's essential to keep your kids entertained so that you can focus on the road. Our advice? Keep favourite books, magazines, and toys in the car and within easy reach, so that you can dissolve any boredom or potential fights in quick time.
6. The sun on the horizon
Driving into the sun at dawn or dusk can be particularly distracting if it forces you to squint. Sunglasses are a must, and pulling down the sun visor may help. If the sun is right in your line of vision, try adjusting your sitting position so that your eyes are shaded; if it's unbearable, pull over and wait the 10 minutes for the sun to rise or set - it's safer and a much nicer way to appreciate the beginning or end of the day.
7. Tuning in...
... can cause you to tune out. Flicking between radio stations, changing CDs or selecting a song on your music player can steal your concentration away from the road and causes you to be a hazard to yourself and other road usersii.
8. A hottie
Well, helloooo! In a survey taken by Allianz last year, 51% of male drivers admitted to getting distracted by an attractive pedestrian when driving. And it's not just the men with wandering eyes - 15% of women admitted to taking in the scenery!
9. A surprise
Car accidents can happen when something surprises you while driving. A spider in the car, a bee sting, or a passenger sneezing, can give you a fright and cause you to panic and slam your foot on the brake or to swerve. Keep your cool and pull over somewhere safely; and then you can sort out whatever has distracted you and take your time to calm down before rejoining the traffic.
10. Your own reflection
Hey there, good looking! Primping or grooming in the rear-view mirror is a surprisingly common distraction for drivers. Applying make-up, fixing hair, adjusting your clothes or simply appreciating your reflection can divert your attention away from what's happening around your car.
Keeping your focus on the road is essential when driving, but some accidents are unavoidable. Car insurance can protect you from financial loss in the event of a car accident. Contact Allianz today for a quote for your vehicle.