7 Ridiculous Driving Distractions that Should Stay at Home
In a recent post about distracted driving laws, we delved into the topic of cell phone use while sitting in the driver’s seat. And you’re most likely acquainted with the repercussions. Fines, blemished driving records and life-changing accidents for worse – they are all too real. However, there are a ton of habits which drivers engage in on the road that doesn’t involve the use of the phone. The crazy thing about these activities, is that they’re all things drivers could do before leaving their home, or when they return. But for some reason, these bathroom, kitchen and living room-oriented chores somehow turn into a driving distractions. And it goes without saying how dangerous they can be.
1. Face Painting
Sorry ladies, for “attacking” you first – we’ll put the gents in place shortly. The reason we consider it first is because it might actually be the second most common driving distraction after cell phone use. You’ve most likely seen it with your own two eyes, whether you’re a man or woman. It’s as if they’re on the set of a Revlon commercial. You’ll see women (especially younger ones) zooming by at full speed, glaring into a mirror that has nothing to do with rear or side views. Rather, they’re meticulously checking their precision while curling their eyelashes, applying lipstick or dabbing blush onto their cheekbones. They fail to consider how their desire to maintain a pretty face can easily turn into a situation that’s not pretty at all. A fender bender or serious collision can easily occur with such a distraction.
2. Razor Sharp Handling
Now the men need a lecture. There is a male equivalent of applying makeup while driving and that’s shaving. It’s great to see that you want to look clean shaven for work, your lady or just to be presentable in public. But the one thing you’ll notice about all the Gillette commercials is the use of razors and shaving cream in the BATHROOM, not the car. It’s not nearly as common as women applying makeup while driving, but it has been seen. However, it is just as dangerous. If a man wants to walk away with a shave that doesn’t look like the jagged border of a country, he has to look at his reflection. That means not looking through the windshield. The result is a dramatically heightened risk of getting into some kind of an accident.
3. Fine Driving
No one is going to criticize a person for sipping a coffee or eating a breakfast sandwich while driving. Of course, it can be risky if a driver goes overboard. But there are those select few people who taking eating behind the wheel to another level, by taking foods that require a fork or spoon to consume. Imagine trying to eat a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup while making a sharp turn. Or ponder a driver eating a rice platter with steak and veggies while merging onto a highway. People do it. There are two dangers that exist with this kind of behaviour: 1) Your driving becomes impaired because you can’t steer freely or change gears, 2) Hot foods can spill on you and cause serious burns. No one should even attempt this “stunt”, considering you have a table at home to eat from. There are no wheels, no lanes, and no traffic to distract you in the dining room. Bon appetite.
4. Reading Between the Lanes
Reading is a great activity that people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances should include in their daily routines. It builds vocabulary, improves your knowledge base and enhances your creativity. But a comma won’t save your life if reading while driving makes it too late to prevent an accident. Period. However, that doesn’t stop a countless number of people from studying their textbooks, reading a newspaper article or diving into a classic novel. Can you get more counter-productive? Drivers who do this have to look up every few seconds, meaning they can only read a few words at a time.
Additionally, they’re only seeing the road in flashes, instead of seeing a full picture – a scenario that could lead to a tragic accident. And it’s silly because there are so many ways to read while commuting. You can take public transit, or join a carpool group so you can read on the days that you don’t drive. And there’s an awesome form of technology that allows you to listen to a story (often narrated by a great voice actor) while doing something else. It’s called an audiobook!
5. Sketchy Drivers
If you think reading while driving is the ultimate driving distraction, peep this – people who draw and drive. Again, this is very rare, but there are people out there who do this. These artists understandably have an itch to get their creations on paper. But it’s not worth risking a collision with a concrete barrier, another vehicle or worse, a pedestrian for the sake of a sketch – art shouldn’t get that messy. Again, there are too many fixes for this problem. If inspiration randomly strikes, an eager artist/driver would pull over in a safe location (ie. parking lot), and sketch away. But NEVER should they try to drive and draw. This advice goes for writers as well, who may feel the burning urge to jot article or story ideas into their moleskines. Please, keep the car crashes in your story and away from reality.
6. Cuddling with Fluffy
Keeping your pet dog or cat in the car with you isn’t a crime. It’s a common sight to see drivers cruising with their furry friends. But again, some take it a step further. As if their pet needs driving lessons, they keep their animals on their lap while driving. Now it’s nice to have an affectionate dog kiss you (assuming you don’t mind), but that’s a huge distraction while you’re in the driver’s seat. Think about it – that natural reaction in many cases is to lean away for a bit, and that can mean shifting your attention off the road. If the distraction level lasts long enough, there’s a good chance you’ll put yourself and your beloved pet in danger of getting into an accident. So why not keep the TLC to the living room, or let Fluffy sit in the backseat. He/she most likely won’t mind.
7. Changing Gears…and Wardrobes
Although there could be worse distractions out there, we think we’ve found the king of driving distractions – changing clothes. Yep, some people apparently forget that their bedrooms or a change room would be a more appropriate place to swap their clothing. This one defies logic on all levels. How could a driver possibly maintain full concentration and control while trying to take their shirt off? After, then they’d have to reach into their clothing bag to find their shirt or sweater to put on. And imagine having to change their pants. The absurd imagery of someone doing that seems unbelievable. However, as we stated at the beginning of this article, we wouldn’t mention it if it wasn’t happening. Here’s a word of advice: If you see a driver doing this in the lane next to you, change lanes right away.
Driving distractions such as the ones mentioned above shouldn’t exist at all. In fact, if you were to engage in anyone of these activities and caused an accident, you could easily be charged and fined with convictions, such as careless driving – a sentence that could lead to a fine of $200 – $1000+ and six demerit points in Ontario. As we asked in our last post about distracted driving law, why would you want to have such an offense on your record. Worst of all, imagine the heartbreak that comes with disability or the loss of life from an accident that started with distractions. For the survivors, the trauma would last for the rest of their lives. With that said, these behaviours are quite easy to fix. Keep them in their place – which is usually at home – or find ways to carry them out without losing focus on the road. By doing that, the activities you love or need to do won’t hurt anyone else or yourself.