Written by Scott Marshall (@SafeDriver)

I’ve been known to be so consumed in what I’m doing that I won’t hear someone speak to me. I doubt I’m the only person that has had that happen to them. I’ve been told I have selected hearing. Apparently I’ve been told that many times, I just don’t remember hearing them. With all kidding aside, it may be selected hearing, or it may be the fact that my brain is focused deeply on one thing that I can’t focus on another at the exact same time. And I’m not alone.

Many people feel they can multi-task, especially while driving

You can do multiple tasks at the same time, provided all but one task are habitual. That’s because your brain has a tough time concentrating on two tasks at the exact same time. Although many people feel they can multi-task, it may be mistaken as task switching. Task switching is when you quickly move from one task to another and then back again. Glancing at the dash controls to change the radio station and then glancing ahead to drive is task switching. That’s because you took your attention away from looking ahead for a brief second to change stations. Regardless of what you call it, it is a distraction when you should be focused on the driving environment.

Texting is just one form of distracted driving

Texting is just one form of distracted driving; but it’s a big one. Recent statistics show distracted driving – mainly texting while driving – contributed to almost 400,000 injuries and over 3000 deaths in the US. How many more injuries or deaths have to happen before we begin to self-discipline ourselves? If you don’t believe it’s an issue for you, try this.

Imagine closing your eyes for 3 to 5 seconds while driving. Would you do it? Of course not, but when you remove your thoughts away from driving for 3 to 5 seconds to find something in the backseat, to check who just sent you that text message or email, it can make or break whether you see stopped traffic ahead, the red light appear in front of you or the child moving in front of you from the crosswalk in time to respond early and safely. That’s what distracted driving does to us. It takes our thoughts away from the driving environment for a few deadly seconds. So here’s what you can do to control it.

Remove the distractions before you drive

Remove the distractions from your driving compartment before you drive. Get everything you need for the drive ready before leaving including setting up your GPS ahead of time or programing your music. Focus on the thoughts associated to your destination once you get to your destination and not before. Remove anything which may distract you while driving including giving your passenger rules to follow so they don’t distract you. Turning off your phone or silencing it stops you from noticing any messages which were sent to you. We all know cell phones are a huge distraction, but so are you. If you really want to drive without distractions, tell yourself you need to and make the changes. Lives depend on it, including your own.

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