The consequences of inattentive driving are no joke! Don’t risk lives, fines, and more. Read our guide for potential risks and alternatives.
Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before. Texting, eating, and daydreaming behind the wheel can be dangerous, but few people truly appreciate the consequences of inattentive driving until they’re dealing with them.
Don’t worry; I’m not just here to wag my finger and lecture you. Instead, I’m going to offer some strategies and safe alternatives so you can leave those bad habits behind you. To really help you understand just how risky inattentive driving can be, I’m also going to discuss some of the consequences that could easily happen if you don’t take driving seriously.
Buckle up, and let’s hit it!
What Is Inattentive Driving?
Inattentive driving is the term used to describe anyone who is driving a vehicle without paying full attention to what they are doing. This can mean anything from sending a text message to taking a few glances at TikTok while you’re stuck in traffic.
Inattentive driving doesn’t have to be as obvious as looking at your cell phone; it could also occur if you’re distracted while talking to your passengers, adjusting your hair in the mirror, grabbing a quick bite of a snack, or even just daydreaming behind the wheel.
While these may sound like innocent little things that help break up a boring drive, most jurisdictions have laws that heavily penalize inattentive driving, especially if it causes a collision. For example, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin all prohibit texting while driving, and they have other laws that can penalize distracted driving.
Even if you’re an experienced driver, you need to understand that it can have extremely serious consequences for you and others.
What Are the Risks of Inattentive Driving?
When you drive without paying attention, you’re risking a lot more than just your own life. Look, I get it; everyone feels like it can’t happen to them, but trust me, if you regularly get distracted while driving, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually have to deal with one of the following outcomes:
Serious Traffic Violations
Inattentive driving isn’t just dangerous; it can also be extremely expensive and mar your driving record. Not only do you risk heavy fines, but you can also get dinged points on your license. This can cause your car insurance premiums to skyrocket for years after your fine.
For more serious incidents where driver inattention caused injuries or deaths, you could even face a temporary license suspension. Do you really want to risk losing your ability to drive because of a distracted driver crash?
Injuries and Fatalities
It almost goes without saying, but it’s worth stressing the point – if you aren’t paying attention while you drive, you greatly increase your risk of being involved in a fatal car accident. Not only can you hurt yourself, you could easily injure or kill someone else in your car.
Do you really want to be that person who puts the safety of every other driver, pedestrian, cyclist, or jogger at risk? Don’t do it! Trust me, if something happened, you wouldn’t want to live with the guilt.
Expensive and Lengthy Lawsuits
If your careless driving resulted in injury or property damage, you could find yourself tangled up in costly and long-lasting legal battles.
How would you feel if your careless driving cost someone’s life? Think of how you’d feel knowing that you robbed a family of their loved one. What if your driving resulted in a life-changing injury to you or one of your passengers?
The emotional and psychological trauma could last a lifetime, and it could disrupt your life in ways you can’t even imagine. A car accident can be an incredibly traumatic experience for everyone involved, especially those who were responsible. Don’t take the risk!
What Are Some Safe Ways to Avoid Inattentive Driving?
I could just tell you to always pay attention while you’re driving and follow distracted driving laws, but that doesn’t help anyone. You know that an inattentive driver and distracted driving are dangerous, so what you need is practical alternatives to some of the most distracting activities.
Here are some of the ways I maintain focus while driving:
Have Hands-Free Conversations
Most cars are equipped with Bluetooth technology, which allows you to make phone calls without having to look at your cell phone or take your hands off the wheel. Even if you’re driving an old clunker that doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can still use Siri or Google Assistant directly through your cell phone to make calls. Better yet, just wait until the engine is off to text and call to ensure safe driving.
Use Voice Commands
Not only can hands-free texting, calling, and dialing features help you stay focused on the road and prevent distracted driving and driver inattention, but you can also use voice commands to control your navigation system, music, podcasts, and other things that would otherwise force you to look away from the road. Put the phone down when you’re behind the wheel.
Take Regular Driving Breaks
This one really helps if you’re on a long drive. Sure, it may extend the length of your drive by a few minutes, but the mental reset you can have from a short break can really help you maintain your driving focus. Pull over and grab yourself a snack, hit the restroom, stretch your legs, and fire off a few texts.
Eat and Drink Before You Drive
Rather than try to manhandle a burrito while you’re driving, just eat before or after you drive! It sounds simple, but eating can be incredibly distracting. You don’t want to be worrying about ketchup stains while you’re driving 70mph!
Keep Conversations Short and Simple
You don’t need to be diving into some emotionally charged conversation while you’re driving. Sure, you can talk to passengers, but you don’t have to turn and face them. Nobody is going to be upset if you’re giving them a ride and tell them, “Sorry, can we save this conversation for later? I just need to focus right now.” Save the deep topics for when you aren’t behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Become a Mindful Driver
Avoid daydreaming or thinking about anything too complex while you drive. Avoid any cognitive distraction that threatens to pull your attention from the task at hand. Stay present and focused. Attentiveness is key. There are other times to think about serious topics, like your relationship or upcoming plans.
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