If you live in Canada, as I do, then you are probably aware of the laws against distracted driving.
Distracted driving qualifies as talking on a cell phone, texting, reading (e.g. books, maps, and newspapers) watching videos or movies, eating/drinking, smoking, personal grooming, adjusting the radio/CD and playing extremely loud music. (I’m guilty of this one)
Even talking to passengers and driving while fatigued can be forms of distracted driving.
“Distracted driving is a form of impaired driving as a driver’s judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road.“ Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Did You Know?
- Reduced reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Possibly falling asleep behind the wheel
- Injuring or killing yourself, your passengers and/or other people
What You Can Do To Reduce Distracted Driving
Driving always requires your full attention. Here are some distracted driving solutions provided by to help make your drive safer:
Plan Your Route – Planning your route should occur before getting in the car so you have a good handle on where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. If you will be using a GPS system, program your route prior to starting the car.
Put your Cell Phone Away – Cell phones should be out of your reach. Reduce the temptation by keeping it out of sight, like in the trunk or in a bag, and turn the ringer off.
Passengers – Passengers in your vehicle is a common distraction. Proper driving requires proper behaviour from passengers as well as the driver.
This post isn’t a PSA for distracted driving, although I do recommend you follow the guidelines above.
But what we know about distracted driving can be very helpful in avoiding distracted living. On any given day we are bombarded with things that can lead to distracted living:
- Smartphone; most of us have one but the challenge is learning how to use it efficiently and effectively without it becoming a constant interruption.
- TV/ Netflix/ YouTube. We have unlimited access to streaming videos and our favorite shows. But undisciplined viewing can lead to distraction of more important things in our lives.
- People. Who we spend time with can have a significant impact on our lives. Do the people you spend time with encourage and support your life or do they hold you back.
- Busyness. Everyone is busy. You are, I am and pretty much everyone you meet today will say the same thing. The real question is, what are you busy at? Busyness can distract us from reaching our potential or accomplishing what is most important. I love the line from Shawshank Redemption, “You can get busy living or you can get busy dying.” (Can you hear Andy Dufresne right now?). Some of your choices add meaning, purpose and fulfillment to your life, while others will ensure you never experience them.
- Lack of goals. Goals give purpose and meaning to the choices we make and the activities we choose. They also help us decide those choices and activities should be. Without goals there is no way to evaluate the demands and opportunities that come our way. A lack of goals will lead to a lack of judgment.
So What Can You Do To Avoid Distracted Living?
To live without distractions, or at least to minimize the distractions that seem to clamour for our attention, consider the following:
- Decide to give your life the attention it needs. If distractions can lead to a lack of focus on what’s important, than taking the time to assess our lives makes sense. Read more here about the value of completing a “Life Assessment”
- Use technology don’t let it use you. When I got my first smartphone I carried it around with me all the time. Then I found myself returning emails at all hours. It didn’t take too long to realize that as helpful as a smartphone is, it could easily consume my time and distract me form more important parts of my life.
- Choose a show ahead of time, don’t channel surf. I like a good TV show (although they seem to be getting harder and harder to find). Decide ahead of time what you will watch and put a time limit on TV.
- Plan your day the night before. Better yet, plan the whole week. Growing up my mom would use a simple spiral binder with lined paper and write the meals for each day of the week ahead. She would add errands and other activities in your notes as well.
- Limit time with people who drain you. Hopefully this doesn’t include your immediate family. But not all friends are your best friend either. Do you have someone who pours into you as much as you pour into them? Do they share your values and encourage you to grow and reach your potential? These relationships are priceless. Foster them, schedule time for them. Be wise in who you spend time with. Parents want this for their children, we should pursue it for ourselves as well.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
- Accept that you can’t multitask. The latest neuroscience makes it clear that we cannot actually, read, watch TV and have a meaningful conversation on FaceBook all at the same time. We can quickly switch from one activity to another but the more we try to do, the less we accomplish and accomplish well. Trying to multitask will cause you to take even more time and make more mistakes along the way.
- Do one thing at a time. If you are working on a project…turn off all notifications and email for a set time. If you’re enjoying dinner with your family…then be present with them. If it’s date night…leave the phones in the car.
Distracted driving is dangerous and potentially lethal. But distracted living is no less dangerous.