Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Four tips to counter distracted driving

Editor’s note: As part of a contest, Greta Jursch ’21 and a friend, Franklin Reitzas, submitted a concept for a 30-second video public service announcement (PSA) to National Road Safety Foundation. Their video was the one selected for professional production in New York City and distribution across the country. Upon Jursch’s return from the PSA’s filming, we asked her to share some of her favorite tips for keeping the road safe from distracted driving.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death among teens. How can we do our part to help minimize these tragedies?

An estimated 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving during the day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Phones have increasing importance in our lives as their capabilities increase. With this progression, it has become more challenging for drivers to keep their hands off their phones while driving, despite the fact that laws have become increasingly restrictive; in California, the latest 2017 law deems it illegal to use your cell phone at all while driving unless it is in hands-free mode. 

The following tips can help minimize distraction on the road.

1. Use a phone holder

In California, you are allowed to touch your phone with one swipe or tap in a small area to the right of the steering wheel. Because of the 2017 law, phone holders that attach to the car within this area have become popular. With the phone located there, you do not have to divert your eyes far from the road to check the GPS, etc. Thus, using a phone holder can help keep drivers’ eyes on the road and help prevent accidents.

Phone holders come in a variety of different styles. I personally have had a magnetic one in my car; a magnet attaches to my phone case, which then attaches to a magnetic mount placed in the car. In another version, the phone simply slides in and is held in place by a rectangular frame mounted on the dash, CD player, or window. A wide range of them can be found on Amazon.

2. Take advantage of Bluetooth

Bluetooth is no longer cutting-edge technology, but nonetheless can be a faithful contributor to curbing distracted driving. Most newer cars have Bluetooth features built in so you can talk on the phone entirely hands-free. If this is your situation, I would encourage you to take advantage of this feature by making sure that your phone is connected before you depart for your destination.

If you’re like me and have an older car without such features, there are other ways to acquire Bluetooth. I personally bought a radio unit that has Bluetooth connection, thus I can answer calls through my car and not have to worry about touching my phone. More cost-effective ways to minimize the problem include Bluetooth adapters that plug into a variety of ports. On Amazon, you can even find some of these for under $20.

3. Set up your GPS beforehand—even if you think you won’t need it

Whether you’re a Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze person, we all have run into the situation where the route has to be adjusted during our trip. Resist the temptation to adjust the route while driving—not only is this illegal, it is incredibly dangerous. One way to mitigate the problem is by making sure you have the address of your destination entered into your GPS before you begin. I often think that I know where I’m going, and then halfway there I realize I need to use maps. So, even if I am somewhat confident, I enter my destination in maps before I depart, just to be sure I won’t be distracted trying to enter it in once I am already en route.

4. Queue up your songs

You’re leaving a parking lot. You really want to hear your latest anthem, “All Star” by Smash Mouth. You have barely typed “all st” into the Spotify search bar, and the next thing you know you have backed right into the nicest Honda Civic you have ever seen. The only thing that’s raised higher than the voice of the Honda Civic owner is your future insurance rates.

Don’t fall victim to this trap. Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and many other music streaming services allow you to queue up your songs ahead of time. Take advantage and do so before you leave, so you can hear all your latest jams without any risk of dangerous distracted driving. 

How do you prevent distracted driving? Keep the discussion going to help raise greater awareness and contribute to the collective safety of everyone on the road.