Distracted driving kills, that’s a fact. It’s dangerous to drive when you’re not able to give your full attention to the road, no matter the reason why.
Some of the biggest threats are driving while drunk, under the influence of drugs or while texting, but there are also the less obvious causes of accidents as well, such as driving while stressed, tired or busy doing something else.
We’ve broken down the facts about each danger.
The figures suggest that among Australian adults, drinking on occasion is normal, with only 23% saying they don’t drink and conversely, over 40% indulging at least weekly. In general, this is fine - but only if you’re not putting yourself or others at risk by getting behind the wheel drunk. Each state has different laws about what’s legal, usually measuring blood alcohol content to suggest one or two drinks. However, different people handle alcohol differently and metabolise at different rates. Unsure? Just don’t do it at all! You can call a taxi or use a ride-sharing service, or have a designated driver. There are options, and if all else fails, book into your nearest hotel.
If you’re on your Ls or your Ps, your blood/alcohol content has to be zero. It’s not just to satisfy an RBT, either, the fact is that drink driving slows your reaction times and causes 30% of deaths on Australian roads. Imagine the guilt of always wondering if that one extra drink might have caused loss of life?
Don’t forget, rules still apply if you’re supervising a learner, and you shouldn’t drive the next day if you’ve had a heavy one the night before. Not sure how long alcohol takes to leave your blood? You should never use calculators like this as a legal or definitive guide, but the results may surprise you, that’s for sure!
Driving Otherwise Under The Influence
What about drugs? While drugs are illegal, official studies suggest that at least 16% of Australians use them, the statistics rising to almost a third of younger adults in their twenties. Tyres & More in no way advocates this, but the statistics suggest a reminder could go a long way. Those partaking in such behaviour must consider the risk they pose to others. Drug driving is unfortunately commonplace in Australia but it is very much against the law. Like alcohol, drugs can stay in your system long after you feel sober. In fact, some drugs stay in your blood or urine for several days - and roadside drug testing may be able to detect this, even if you don’t feel affected. If you’re not sure, don’t risk it. Lives could be at stake.
Driving while affected by drugs or while drunk can result in loss of licence, a hefty fine and even a criminal record which could affect your travel movements, job prospects and everything else.
Driving While Using Your Phone
The laws about driving while using your phone can get a bit confusing, but one thing is for sure - you should never text and drive! Depending on your proficiency and the state you live in, you may or may not be able to use a phone at all. However, for those with a full licence, the general consensus is that phones in a hands-free cradle or similar are okay. If you’re a learner or a P-plate driver, unfortunately, you’ll usually have to get a GPS instead. You can’t use your phone while driving at all.
Remember, where applicable, laws apply even when you’re stopped at traffic lights or you’re otherwise stationary. Even tapping to change the music or answer a call is a big no-no and could land you in serious trouble if caught.
Driving While Tired
According to the Transport for NSW Centre for Road Safety, more people have died recently as a result of fatigue than while drunk behind the wheel. These shocking statistics make sense when you learn that staying awake for 17 hours straight has a similar effect on your performance as a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05.
Worried you’re too tired? Test yourself. Tired driving is a killer, so see if you’re at risk. This tool tests your memory, reflexes and recall, but it’s pretty fun and is great for giving tips. Don’t use the results as a definitive answer as to whether you should drive though. Be honest with yourself.
Driving While Otherwise Occupied
Whether you’re adding a coat of lipgloss or you’re away with the fairies, when we’re physically or mentally otherwise occupied, it can pose a serious threat on the road. For example, eating while driving is a legal grey area, but you might want to think twice if it’s taking your focus off the task at hand, because you could be accused of negligent driving or driving without proper control. Perhaps save the Maccas until you get home?
If you’re stressed, this can also cause accidents because you’re busy thinking about being anxious, angry or upset. Don’t let a negative mood cause you to drive less responsibly than you normally would.
Finally, children can be an (unavoidable) distraction on the roads, but we’ve got you covered in this blog.
Your full attention should always be on the road, whenever you’re driving - it’s the best way to ensure you’re following our tips for driving safely! If you’re worried about your ability to do so because of your car itself, pop into any of our service centres.