AN AVERAGE of 40 people die on South Africa's roads every day, resulting in almost 14000 deaths annually. Worldwide, more people are killed as a result of road accidents than malaria.
A sobering thought, isn't it?
Driving while unfocused is one of the leading causes of road accidents.
Studies show that if you are using your cellphone while driving, you are four times more likely to be involved in an accident than if you weren't.
When driving, it takes, on average, 2.5 seconds to check your cellphone, so if you are travelling at 100km per hour you will travel the length of a rugby field without seeing what is happening on the road around you.
If you are preoccupied with updating your Facebook status, would you notice the children crossing the road or the car that has suddenly stopped in front of you? Now that you think about it, would you still take the risk?
Even if you only use your cellphone at a red light or when stationary, studies show you could fail to see up to 50% of what's happening around you. Driving while unfocused can also make you a soft target for criminals – it increases your risk of becoming a victim of smash and grabs or even hijackings.
Not only this, but you could also collect a hefty fine, as using a cellphone while driving is against the law. Being alert and aware of your surroundings is your best defence.
While cellphones have become a normal part of everyday life, the risks associated with using them while driving are just too high. Only one solution remains – to break the habit. Here are a few tips to help you:
1. Use a hands-free device.
In an ideal world we would avoid picking up our cellphones while driving, but when you simply can't be separated from it, use a hands-free device.
2. Keep your cellphone out of reach.
Reduce the temptation to check your phone while driving. Put it somewhere you can't see it.
3. Switch off your phone.
Switch it off, or set it to "silent" and avoid the temptation to take a call or read a message. Change your voicemail greeting to "I can't take your call as I am either in a meeting or driving" – it may inspire others to follow suit.
4. Keep both hands on the wheel.
Your hands should be on your steering wheel at all times when you are not changing gears.
5. Use voice-activated apps.
These days, many smartphones have voice-activated apps that allow you to dial or even type an SMS using your voice, so you can stay in touch without taking your eyes off the road.