Show of hands: Who has caught a wild Rattata on their way to work?
Pokémon GO is only the latest of countless distractions to take your mind – and eyes – off the road while you’re driving. Distracted driving is an epidemic in the United States, with 8 people killed and 1,161 people injured each day due to drivers doing things other than just driving.
Whether you’re playing Pokémon, making your weekly call to mom, grabbing a quick breakfast in the car, putting on mascara, picking up that pen you dropped, having the “It’s not you; it’s me” talk with your significant other, or refereeing quarrelsome toddlers in the backseat, you are putting yourself and countless others at risk.
Check out this video that shows what distracted driving looks like in real life:
Consider recent history (like the 1980s), before we had 24/7 contact with the whole world. Somehow we managed to travel – sometimes for hours – without checking our phones. That “quick glance” at your phone to read an incoming text takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. In that length of time, driving 45 mph, you’d travel the length of a football field. Imagine the damage you could do in that space at 5:15 p.m. on Highway 378 in Lexington.
Here are some things you can do to limit your distractions while driving:
- Silence your phone and put it out of reach. That “urgent” text message can wait.
- Set your GPS before you start driving.
- Put your passenger in charge of the air conditioning and radio. (They’ll love you for it.)
- Save serious discussions (on the phone or with a passenger) for home.
To promote safe driving, several developers have created apps to help you keep your mind off your phone and on the road.
- Focus – Screen Free Driving (https://apprecs.com/ios/1033662985/focus-screen-free-driving) for iPhone gives audible reminders when you touch your phone while driving. Examples of these reminders are, “Eyes on the road, Chief” and “Would your parents be happy with you if they knew you were doing this?” At the end of your trip, it gives you a report showing how many minutes you were distracted by your phone.
- DriveMode (https://drivemode.com/) for Android and iPhone will turn itself on and silence your text alerts once you reach 15 mph.
- SafeDrive (https://www.getsafedrive.com/) for Android and iPhone rewards you with points as you drive that can be redeemed at gas stations and other retailers, but once you touch your phone while driving, you lose your points.
- For other apps, search for “distracted driving” in your phone’s app store.