Although not technically illegal, these driving distractions are still highly-dangerous. You could find yourself in a fender bender soon, or something even more serious if you’re not aware of these distractions.
We all know about what you’re not allowed to do at the wheel but there’s a growing list of things we are allowed to do that are posing serious risks to driving. Of course, we all know that as soon as you touch your phone whilst driving you’re breaking the law, yet we’re allowed to navigate our complex in-car infotainment systems whilst driving at full speed?
Sometimes, we need to apply some common sense to make sure we’re not just meeting the minimum legal requirements but also, aim to operate our vehicles safely and with full concentration.
Here are some perfectly legal activities that can soon become illegal if they distract you:
Using the infotainment system
With the tech in cars becoming more and more complex each year, the difference between operating your phone and your car’s systems is becoming less and less. Also, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto becoming standard features, drivers are basically already on their phones whilst driving as it is.
It’s mostly illegal to touch your phone in the car, yet it’s ok to operate the complex menus of the infotainment system to do things like select music, set sat-nav and tune the radio.
There is a slight, and important, caveat to this. No matter what you’re doing and no matter how legal you think it is, as soon as it becomes a dangerous distraction it becomes an offence. That being said, with automakers making screens bigger and more advanced each year, it’s getting harder to stay focussed whilst driving.
Speaking on the phone
Even though speaking on the phone (hands-free) is totally legal, it’s still very distracting. Your hands are still on the wheel and your eyes are still pointed ahead but your mind is elsewhere.
There have been several studies that suggest that talking hands-free can be just as distracting as holding a phone to your head whilst driving. That’s because the distraction is mostly mental, rather than physical.
The University of Sussex found conversations can cause the driver to visually imagine what they are talking about. Of the 60 participants, those that were talking whilst driving recorded reaction times that were almost a second slower. One second can be the difference between life and death when it comes to driving, so be careful whilst having a conversation and driving. This applies to speaking to passengers too!
Sure, cars are made with cupholders and eating on the go is sometimes irresistible when you’re hungry. That being said, eating and drinking can be harder than you think, especially when we have distracted drivers out here trying to peel oranges and pierce their juice cartons with a straw.
Having a dog in the car
Legally speaking, dogs and other animals must be ‘suitably restrained’ so they cannot distract you. However, even when they are strapped in they can cause issues, sometimes due to their cuteness. What if your dog wants to stick its head out of the window, throws up or starts whimpering asking to be petted. Even if it’s doing absolutely nothing, drivers are going to have to fight the temptation of giving their best pal’s a pat on the head just for being such a good boy/girl. Damn you for being so cute!
Reaching for something in the back or on the floor
Due to a poorly planned outing, you now have to reach for that valuable thing that can’t wait, which just so happens to be on the other side of the car and behind you. Doing this while stopped may result in you missing a green light and blocking traffic but doing this whilst in motion can lead to another level of danger.
Taking off a jumper/jacket
We all know that one person that seems to be always taking off jackets whilst driving because they’re too hot. For goodness sake, take it off before you get in your hot car on a warm day! We don’t want to see arms flailing and a jumper covering your eyes whilst in motion! Although it may not be known to be illegal, you wouldn’t be doing it if a police car was driving next to you…
What ‘legal’ distractions do you think we should all be aware of? Let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed this, you may also like: ‘Can You Identify The Car From The Door Handle?’
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