Watching Out for Distracted Drivers

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How to Spot, Avoid, and Deal with Distracted Drivers

We certainly spend a lot of time advising people about how to break distracted driving habits. But what about those of you who follow the rules of the road? While you’re rewarded by the new ICBC No Fault insurance model you still want to avoid accidents that are caused by those you share the road with. A recent report from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests something interesting – perhaps it’s time to stop telling people about how to keep from driving while distracted, and instead teach them to watch out for those who do. This is a concept that can absolutely help good drivers become more vigilant and avoid a motor vehicle accident (MVA). Here’s what you can do.

What Good Drivers (like you) Can Do to Recognize and Avoid Distracted Drivers on the Road

Recognize Signs of Driver Distraction

As a good driver you have your eyes on the road and the automobiles around your lane. However, also take note of what the drivers of those other vehicles are doing. If they exhibit any of the following behaviors, an MVA may be forthcoming:

  • They are using their smartphones (in hand)
  • They are looking down and adjusting auto-infotainment controls or GPS
  • Their front dash display screen is playing a video such as a movie, show, game or virtual meeting (FaceTime, Zoom, etc.)
  • They are eating or drinking
  • They are applying makeup or shaving
  • They keep looking at passengers while engaged in conversation (especially rowdy kids…or friends)
  • They have moving ornaments and figurines (bobbleheads, etc.) on their front dash (it’s a real issue in BC)
  • They have a dog (or other pet) in their vehicle but not in a carrier

If you witness any one of those behaviors you should safely change lanes, slow down, or pull over and/or give them enough time to drive out of sight.

Recognize That Distractions Have Already Impaired Their Performance

You may not be able to see what they are doing on the inside of their vehicle BUT there are signs that their ability to operate the vehicle has already been impaired. These include the following:

  • They are swerving outside of their lane
  • They slow down and speed up abruptly (inconsistent movement)
  • They exhibit slow response time to stoplights, stop signs, merge and yield signs
  • They are driving in excess of a typical following distance (they know they need to have that distance to compensate for their inability to react quickly)

Once again, if you witness any one of those behaviors you should safely change lanes, slow down, and/or pull over.

Should You Report Them?

No one wants to be a “tattletale”, BUT when it comes to the road doing so can save lives, including yours and those within your vehicle. That said, it is not realistic to report all instances of distracted driving. And when you can, there are protocols to follow based on the severity of the offense. For instance, if you have witnessed that driving has already been impaired to the point that the driver is putting others in immediate danger then you should call (hands-free) 911 and provide the location, vehicle description, and license plate number. For all other complaints, use logical judgement. The police don’t want to be bothered by calls that someone is driving with a coffee in one hand, but if they are driving erratically and you have it recorded on your dash-cam there may be cause. DriveSmartBC has provided a detailed guide to making a driving complaint to local police. Review it ahead of time so that you know if/when a complaint is justified.

We applaud you for being a safety-conscious driver! If there were more people like you, BC roads would be a much safer place. But until this becomes a reality we encourage you to update your automobile insurance to make sure that you’re well protected against the driving habits of others. Contact Park today to schedule a consultation.

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