Stay Focused, Stay Safe: Tips on Overcoming Distracted Driving

Older man using a vehicle's touch screen

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation systems — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

The Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety (ChORUS) joins organizations nationwide in raising awareness of distracted driving to help keep road users safe. Older adults are less likely to be distracted by devices, yet there are other distractions to be mindful of. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving

These distractions can impact every driver and may lead to crashes. Despite being among the safest drivers on the road, older adults’ daily lives and well-being can be affected after a crash due to an increased chance of developing injuries and experiencing a longer recovery time. However, there are steps you can take to improve your focus and limit distractions. ChORUS is here to help you with tips, tools, and resources that can help.

Improve Your Comfort in Your Car with CarFit

Carfit, sponsored by AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association, is an educational program that offers opportunities for older drivers to check how well their car fits them. These “fit” changes could include things like larger mirrors, support handles, seat adjusters, and more. After the CarFit assessment, you will receive information and resources from a trained CarFit technician.

Set Yourself Up for a Safe Journey

Before beginning driving, do simple things like adjusting your seat and mirrors, picking a radio station, and typing your destination into your GPS. Stay focused on the road and avoid multitasking, like eating or using your phone. To help limit distractions, you can set your phone to its “Do Not Disturb” setting, which turns off notifications until you arrive at your destination. You can also download safe driving apps such as DriveMode and Lifesaver, available for Android and iOS devices on the app store. These apps temporarily block notifications from popping up on your screen when driving.

Know Where to Go, Before You Go

Take a moment to review the route before starting your trip. Going over the directions before beginning your journey can help jog your memory of the needed turns and exits to arrive at your destination safely.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Vehicle’s Tools

If your car is less than ten years old, it likely has features designed to reduce distractions. Getting to know these safety features can make driving less distracting. Adjusting the radio volume, changing stations, or checking your phone can divert your attention from the road and pose risks. If your car has steering wheel controls for radio adjustments, use those instead of reaching for the radio controls.

Stay Up-to-Date on Driving Safety Techniques with ChORUS

ChORUS is here to help you drive safely with confidence, whether it be learning about the state-specific resources available in your area, creating a transportation plan, accessing guides on driving safety or exploring topics in our online library. Be sure to check the ChORUS website regularly for updates on driving safety.