Eid Al Adha: Tips to Reduce Distracted Driving
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Eid Al Adha: Tips to Reduce Distracted Driving

Do you ever “zone out” while driving on highways and suddenly realize time has passed without noticing? We’ve all been there! Driving is one of many people’s daily routines and because of that, sometimes people take driving for granted. Honestly, we often go through the motions without giving it much thought – almost as though we’re on autopilot! It’s a proven fact that driving is a demanding task that requires all your attention. During Eid days, it’s very common to engage in distracted driving; especially with all the added distractions, the holidays bring for drivers!

Therefore, driving during Eid in Saudi requires an added focus on easily prevented distractions in order to reduce your odds of being involved in a wreck.

What does distracted driving refer to?

Distracted driving refers to driving while doing any activity that diverts attention from the job at hand. According to numerous studies, the human brain cannot perform two tasks that require a high level of attention at once. These studies have shown that the brain struggles to juggle two activities at once, and instead moves quickly between them – with a loss in accuracy each time it shifts its attention. If you are typing a text message as you talk to someone, for example, you temporarily lose the capacity to process the conversation as you type out the sentence. Similarly, you cannot stay focused on the road when you’re texting while driving.

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Types of distractions while driving

There are many different distractions on the road that compromise the safety of drivers, passengers, and every other road user. In general, there are 4 main types of distracted driving

  • Visual: Vision is obviously crucial to driving, helping you see the road, hazards, signs, and signals. Never take your eyes off the road! Be sure to check your surroundings yourself, and don’t overly on backup cameras.
  • Manual: Keep both hands on your steering wheel, and again don’t rely completely on modern technologies – even in self-driving cars.
  • Cognitive: Stay alert and attentive behind the wheel. Being alert means being prepared to avoid any surprising turn of events and could save you from accidents.
  • Auditory: This is the second most important sense to operating a vehicle. The roads are full of sounds that help you navigate around safely unusual noises, sirens, and pedestrians. So, be aware of your surroundings always.

Watch out for distracted driving fine in Saudi

Distracted drivers are a danger not only to themselves and their passengers but to other road users as well. Any distraction, at some inopportune moment, can even prove costly if not fatal!

In Saudi Arabia, the Traffic Department will impose SAR 500 fine, along with 2 black points — and this could also impact your insurance rates. Notably, the Saudi Department of Traffic has also warned that driving without insurance is another violation of traffic laws; non-insurers can expect SAR 150 fine – Check your vehicle insurance validity on Absher & easily buy insurance online, if necessary.

Common Driving Distractions During Eid

Nobody thinks it’s okay to drive while distracted, yet most people have likely done it at some point. Distracted driving could mean driving while doing any activity that diverts attention from the job at hand. This includes everything from fiddling with your car radio to throwing curious glances at some roadside accident as you drive along.

Nearly everyone is guilty of some form of distracted driving. Here are few examples of everyday driving behaviors that could unbeknown take your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Using mobile phones

Unarguably, using a mobile phone behind the wheel is the number one cause of distracted driving because it combines all 4 types of distraction. In 2019, SASO said it recorded 161,242 accidents with their survey showing that the main causes were using mobile phones or not concentrating while driving.

When you are answering a short call, reacting to a WhatsApp message, taking pictures, or refreshing your feed; you are increasing your reaction time and decreasing your ability to asses and react to any sudden event. Surprisingly, smartwatches can also distract drivers more than phones.

To avoid distraction, turn on Driving Mode on your smartphone to help you stay focused on the road. This mode will silence all messages and other notifications. Incoming calls will only be allowed when your phone is connected to a Bluetooth device.

Using vehicle controls

Every time you take your eyes off the road to change your playlist or look up directions, you put yourself at risk! That’s right — Most drivers don’t realize that adjusting their GPS is just as dangerous as texting and driving is.

From time to time, drivers misinterpret GPS instructions, or simply miss an exit. Trying to program a GPS while you’re driving creates a major distraction and unnecessarily risks the well-being of other drivers and you. One study shows that it takes about 40 seconds on average to reroute your GPS. Then, you’ll remain distracted for up to another 13 seconds as you readjust to road mode. As a result, you may not be able to react to events in time; especially, if you have one hand off the wheel.

As a general rule, plan your commute before you set off; especially, if you’re visiting somewhere new this Eid. Essentially, familiarizing yourself with the route gives you a clear idea of where to go, as well as prevent over-reliance on screens. Plus, apps like Google Maps can predict traffic, roadworks, detours, on your travel route and send alerts.

Children misbehaviour

A recent study found that children are driving their parents to danger on the road. Admittedly, children can be another source of distraction for many parents.

In the study, many parents revealed that they’ve taken their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel; because of the way their children behaved in the backseat. They also say they’ve run through red traffic lights, forgotten to indicate, braked suddenly, swerved into the next lane, and even been forced to stop the car completely.  

If you are preparing to travel with children during Eid al-Adha, plan in advance to avoid backseat battles and temper tantrums. The key to have a an easy-breezy roadtrip with children, is to make sure everyone get enough rest first. You should also start educating children early about in-car safety rules. And instead of children bein a distraction to you, you can distract them with games, music, food, or tablets.

Eating, drinking, or smoking

There is no such thing as an acceptable distraction while you’re driving. Of course, eating, drinking, and smoking are no exception.

The NHTSA found that eating, drinking, and smoking all increase the chances of getting in a car accident by 80%. Moreover, 65% of near-miss car accidents are a result of drivers who were eating or drinking while driving. The study concluded that motorists are eight times more likely to be involved in an accident when they take their hands off the steering wheel to unwrap their food or light cigarrites.

Between potential hot coffee spills, burns, and a slippery driver’s wheel — is it really a good idea to eat and drive? Now, if you must, be sure to spare SAR 150 for the fine.

Rubbernecking

We humans have a deeply curious nature, and as humans, we are always intrigued by an accident on the road. When there’s an accident, you might find yourself compelled to slow down, turn your neck, and try to figure out what happened exactly. Beware! Curiousity killed the cat. Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles your risk of getting into a car accident.

In reality, it doesn’t take long for an accident to happen. Think about how short three seconds is. Now, count slowly to three 1. 2. 3. In that time, you could have rear-ended a car, seriously injured a pedstrian, or veered off your car compeletly.

Grooming

Some people often make the mistake of treating their time driving as “extra” time, during which they can compelete other trivial tasks and activities. On Eid, you are most likely to be running late, and for this reason you may be tempted to save some time to put in your lenses, retouch your makeup, or wear your Shemagh on-the-move.

Generally, multi-tasking is mentally demanding; it is proven to reduce levels of concentration and impair the ability to make decisions effectively. Even glancing into the mirror to check your Shemagh considerably increases the risk you are exposed to while driving.

Hence, the best you can do is allow yourself to be fashionably late! Take a little extra time to ensure you look your best before leaving home or after parking your car!

Reckless behaviour of other road users

Anyone can become a reckless driver when they are in a hurry! In heavy traffic, impatient drivers are more likely to find an excuse to start driving erratically without paying attention to everyone’s safety.

For example, some will tailgate you while flashing their headlights or honking excessively honk, just because they want you to drive faster. If this happens, remain calm and focused. Don’t retaliate; instead, try to avoid them safely by switching your lane.

Typically, when a driver rear-ends your car, the accident is their fault; because driving too close to vehicles without leaving a safe space is a traffic violation. Thus, the at-fault driver insurance is supposed to cover your injuries and the damage done to your car.

On the other hand, if you do something to cause the accident, you may also be at fault here! If you have comprehensive insurance, you can file a claim with your insurer to get compensated for the damage to your car, and your third-party coverage will take care of the other driver’s injuries and property damage.

Drowsiness & fatigue

During the Eid holiday, many drivers are forced to drive in the early or late hours due to increased activities and travel. This often means staying up late and not getting enough rest. In return, this causes a dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue.

According to the AAA, drivers who lack a full night’s sleep greatly increase their risk of getting into car accidents. Specifiaclly, people who get behind the wheel after missing just 1-2 hours out of the recommended 7 of sleep nearly double their risk of crashing; whereas, people who missed 2-3 hours increase their risk four times as many.

Usually, drowsy driving happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen because of untreated sleep disorders, and medications. So, before hitting the road, be sure to know if your medicine may affect your ability to drive safely. There are several proven ways to overcome drowsy driving in Eid. First and foremost, get enough sleep. Secondly, if you are traveling long distances, find some company! Taking turns behind the wheel allows you to rest without putting your trip on pause. Another thing you can do is listen to podcasts or audiobooks — they can help keep your attention. And most importantly, pull over to take a break, get out, stretch, and take a power nap.

All distractions are dangerous

On the whole, driving is a demanding task that requires your undivided attention to be able to react to any hazard that arises. Most distractions are avoidable; although some distractions are impossible to completely prevent – instead, they must be managed. Otherwise, they can result in a wide range of errors, some of which may be fatal.

On Eid holiday, take charge of keeping everyone safe by eliminating distractions. Be a responsible, attentive, and cautis driver! Avoid any potential driving distractions that could avert your attention from the road while the vehicle is moving.