Yes For “Hands-Free” and “Hands-On” Driving

BELLEVUE, WA, June 4, 2010 — You’ve seen the scenarios; drivers who weave in their lane, who drive so slow they hold up traffic in dangerous ways, or drivers who seem like they don’t know where they are. While statistics show that many people talk on cell phones and text while driving, on June 10th, it becomes a primary offense for drivers to do so in Washington State (you can be pulled over and ticketed for $124, unless you’re using a “hands-free” method of talking on your cell).

Any effort that encourages people to stay focused while driving is a good one, but does it go far enough? Defensive Driving Schools wants drivers to be educated on how to not only be hands- free, but to be “hands on” as well; that is, to be aware of all the potential risks road that distract drivers and manage that risk in the best possible way.

Distracted driving ranges from things you can control like conversations with passengers, grooming, drowsiness, eating, reading and cell phone use, to things you can’t control like a screaming child or an insect in the car.

“Drivers cannot be 100% distraction-free,” said JC Fawcett, Defensive Driving School Instructor. “However, the distractions we invite into our lives increase the odds of us harming ourselves and others.”

Let’s take a look at how we can eliminate some of our bad behavior and become “hands-on” drivers.

  1. Scenario: I’m eating my lunch while driving (which I shouldn’t do), and I drop a French fry.  Hands off = grabbing that fry while driving.  Hands on = waiting until I’m at a stop light or reach my destination.
  2. Scenario:  I’m late for work but have a meeting so must put on my mascara in the car.  hands off=applying makeup whil driving.  hands on= waiting until I’m parked at work.
  3. Scenario:  I’m driving on a beautiful day and my mom calls.  Hands off = answering that call.  Hands on = pull over and call mom back, or wait until I’m not driving.

With teenagers, it’s an even more dangerous issue. The NHTSA reports that car crashes remain the No. 1 killer of teens. For teen drivers, it’s best to manage risk by eliminating it altogether. This means no eating in the car, having the radio station pre-set and not using the phone in any way, shape or form. For those who have been driving many years, hands-free may be appropriate. But for our teens, we must be proactive in encouraging them to drive “hands-on.”

“We also teach our students to anticipate the unexpected while driving,” said Bridget Johns, Defensive Driving School Instructor. “Our teachers play a game of tag with them while driving where they must verbally identify potential hazards in the traffic scene such as oncoming left- turning vehicles, road construction, traffic signals, etc. As a student’s eye is trained where to look, what to anticipate and how to respond, decision-making becomes automatic and they are able to juggle multiple decisions at a subconscious level just like experienced drivers.”

Defensive Driving School wants all drivers to be “hands-on” drivers. That means experienced drivers should being “hands-free” with cell phones, it means not inviting distractions into our lives, and it means not allowing our teens to use a cell phone AT ALL when driving (even hands-free). What role will you play to keep our roads as safe as possible?

Defensive Driving School is the Puget Sound’s oldest and most respected driving school, with offices in Bellevue, Issaquah, Mill Creek, Lynnwood/Edmonds, Everett, Factoria, Redmond, Woodinville, Mill Creek, Seattle, West Seattle, Mukilteo, Kent, Monroe, Snohomish, Lake Stevens and Arlington.