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One of the biggest shake ups in recent years happened in 2007 when the government banned mobile phones from being used in the car. Guidelines stated that anyone using their mobile phone dangerously could face jail, and since then, a number of motorists have served prison sentences for this crime.
The problem is that many of the bad habits which are caused by driving are not against the law but can be equally as distracting and dangerous. A lapse in concentration for even a second can cost lives, so it’s important to always deal with any distractions in an appropriate way.
Eating is one of the most common bad habits which most drivers are regularly guilty of. It’s difficult not to resist a bite to eat if you’re on a long journey or have left the house with no time for breakfast, but scientists have proven that you are twice as likely to crash if a pedestrian walks in front of your car whilst you are eating. Holding items of food in your hand reduces the amount of control you have behind the wheel and can therefore slow down your reactions.
Drinking hot drinks whilst driving is another culprit, particularly if you spill it as your attention will inevitably be diverted from the road without you even realising it. Hot water on your skin causes you to react irrationally which could in turn lead to an accident.
IPods and MP3 players and other car gadgets are another huge distraction. It seems like an easy task to change a CD or search for a new album to play on your iPod, but it’s much safer to get a passenger to do this for you, or if you really can’t wait then pull over or wait until the car is stationary to avoid unnecessary accidents.
Kids can be the biggest distraction of all, so making sure they are occupied with toys, books and games on longer car journeys is a good idea. If your child is playing up then avoid turning round to them as this is one of the most dangerous things you can do.
Mobile phone usage is safe as long as you are using an approved hands free kit – balancing a phone in your hand is not considered “hands free”, you will need a proper ear piece with a holder for your phone or a Bluetooth device in order to chat freely and safely.
Smoking is similar to eating and drinking in that it can be a huge distraction as one of your hands is inevitably not on the steering wheel. Smoking is also a potential fire hazard so it is not a good idea to light up under any circumstances.