April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and well we all know we shouldn’t text or use our cell phones while we are driving, there may be a bigger culprit in our midst.

When we think of distracted driving, talking on cell phones and texting are the two most common things we think of. Of course, these are only two of many. Anything that takes our focus off the road has the potential to become a hazardous distraction. It could be the music we are listening to, the sweet classic car that’s driving beside us, the billboards that line the highway, the wildlife that’s meandering through the field, and so many other external distractions.

Have you ever stopped to question how dangerous your own mind can be when you get behind the wheel? No probably not. We bet you’d be surprised to learn that, according to studies, the number one distraction associated with fatal crashes was being lost in thought.

Are you thinking about the fight you had with your spouse? Are you worried that the slow-moving traffic ahead of you is going to cause you to be late for your delivery? Are you stressed out because you’ve just made a wrong turn and now you’re not sure how to get back to your route? Are you daydreaming about future goals and ambition, or that amazing vacation that is only 5 days away? All of these are internal distractions.

Internal distractions can keep your mind off the road. While your eyes may be set on the road ahead of you, your mind has actually wondered off, making this form of distracted driving the worst because we do it without even realizing it.

How to Keep Your Mind on the Road

Listening to the radio, or podcasts are great ways to help keep your mind from wandering. Keeping the content fresh though; listening to the same playlist you’ve had for years, is not recommended. Listing to something that is familiar can actually encourage your mind to drift. The great thing about passive engagement activities is that your mind will automatically tune it out when it needs to, so when something out of the ordinary happens, you’ll focus on that instead of the radio.

Shifting your eyes is another great way to stay focused. Know where to look on the road and keep your eyes moving. Always be on alert for situations that may require you to take an action such as changing your speed or direction.

Playing verbal games and carpooling are also recommended, but unfortunately, are not an option that many truckers can take advantage of.

Prevention is also key. If another activity demands your attention, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place.

Source: Erie Insurance