4 Ways SUV Owners Can Reduce Driving Distractions

Published February 16, 2017 by Sean Jackson

There are many things competing for your attention. However, when you are driving your SUV, you’ll want to eliminate as many distractions as you can which includes refraining from using your phone. According to NOPUS, at any time there are close to 660,000 people using their cell phones when driving. That might not seem like a big deal on the surface. After all, responding to a quick text only takes a matter of seconds and then your eyes are back on the road. However, it’s what happens in those seconds your eyes are not engaged that matter the most. VTTI provides a perfect illustration of this. It states the average time you take your eyes off the road when texting is five seconds. If you are driving at least 55 miles per hour, this is the same as driving the length of a football field while wearing a blindfold. Considering how erratic traffic patterns can be, this example illustrates how dangerous distracted driving can be. Distracted driving can come in all forms. Below is a look at some of the behaviors it entails:
  • Using a phone to text, talk, or access music
  • Talking to other passengers
  • Using the controls on the audio system
  • Eating
  • Reading a map
  • Listening to music too loudly
  • Grooming--this includes brushing your teeth, doing your hair, or shaving
Any of these behaviors can take your focus off the road. By doing so, it reduces the amount of recognition and reaction time needed to take appropriate action should a vehicle stop suddenly. Therefore, it’s important to change behaviors concerning how you drive your SUV.

Keep Your Phone Accessible and Quiet

The biggest distraction comes from your cell phone, as it’s only natural to want to check the screen for any notifications. To eliminate this distraction, store your phone face down in a console or storage area near you. This allows you to reach your phone if you need it for emergency purposes, but it also keeps your eyes focused on the road since the temptation isn’t there to look over to see if anyone has texted you. As part of this, disable all audible alerts on your phone before you begin your drive. There’s nothing more distracting than having your phone ring or beep every few minutes. Not only will this distract you, it might prompt you to pick up your phone.

Keep the Cabin Quiet

Sure, it can be fun to unleash your inner rock star during drives by blaring music, but it can also be distracting. Loud music makes it harder for you to hear any emergency vehicles that might be approaching. It also slows your decision-making abilities. In a study conducted by Memorial University, it discovered that drivers who played music at 95 decibels had their reaction time slowed by 20 percent. Loud music isn’t the only obstacle in your SUV’s interior. Passengers can be just as distracting. By carrying on extended conversations with passengers, it limits your ability to keep full focus on the road. This can slow your reaction times, putting you at higher risk for an accident. With these things in mind, you should try to keep your SUV’s cabin quiet. Sure, you can listen to music, just keep the volume reasonable. Additionally, keep conversations with passengers to a minimum. Both of these actions can help you focus more on the road, which your passengers will be thankful for.

Be Alert

Another area to touch on is how you approach driving. Distracted driving can result from stress and fatigue as well. To demonstrate, if you had a crazy day and you still have a list of things to do, your mind won’t be fully engaged in driving. Instead, you’ll be focusing more on external factors. Because of this, you could react slower when requiring corrective action, escalating your chances of an accident. If you are stressed out, take a few minutes and walk. Sift through your thoughts that way when you are ready to drive you do so with a clearer mind. Meanwhile, if you are really tired, consider an alternative to driving. Use your city’s public transportation, a car sharing service or contact a friend or relative to pick you up.

Use Your SUV’s Tools

Vehicle manufacturers designed their SUVs to assist you in reducing distractions. One of the most effective ways they’ve done this is with smartphone integration. If you have a newer SUV, chances are you can connect your smartphone through Bluetooth. Many SUVs even come with voice commands where you can control music, listen to voicemails, and receive directions. Because everything is hands-free, your eyes won’t have to alternate between the road and the entertainment system. While beneficial on the surface, there are some things you want to keep in mind when using this type of feature. The best way to eliminate distractions is to set up what you want before going on your drive. So, if your goal is to play music, have a set list ready to go that way you don’t have to do multiple commands when driving. Keep in mind that doing many voice commands when operating an SUV is similar to talking on the phone or speaking with a passenger, therefore limit the amount of commands you need.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

Along with these tips, here are some things to keep in mind to reduce distracted driving:
  • If you are a parent with a teen driver, chances are they are going to mimic what you do more than what you say. With this in mind, be a safe example for them by using the above suggestions to minimize distractions during your drives.
  • To dovetail off the previous point, have your teen drive with no passengers in their SUV, as this will help reduce distractions.
  • When you enter your SUV, take a few moments to prepare yourself for the drive. This can quiet your mind and help you focus more on the task at hand.

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