Focus Forward

 
 
 
 
 
Whether operating a vehicle, riding a bicycle or simply strolling down the sidewalk, remaining aware of your surroundings and focusing on the path in front of you is important. Everyone can do their part to minimize distractions on the road, in the bike lane and on foot, improving safety conditions for all travelers.

What counts as a distraction? A distraction is any activity that diverts a person’s attention from the primary task of getting from point A to point B.

#FocusForwardAuburn and keep your mind engaged to help keep yourself and others safe.

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Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes in Alabama. In fact, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation. Other driving distractions include:

  • Cell phone and smart phone use
  • Eating and drinking behind the wheel
  • Grooming or applying make-up
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video or adjusting a sound system

There are several ways to adjust your driving habits to minimize distractions and focus forward. To cut down on the temptation to use your phone while driving, try storing it in the back seat or in your car’s glove compartment. If you have an iPhone, activate the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” function to limit notifications while driving. Consider using a hands-free device to talk on the phone while driving a car. And when your attention is required somewhere other than the road to perform any task other than driving, stop safely and pull off the road to complete the task. It’s not worth the risk.

 

Cycling Safety

While distracted drivers are an increasing problem for cyclists sharing the road, there are safety risks to distracted cycling itself. Even for the most talented cyclist, any activity that draws attention away from safely navigating bike lanes and sharing the road can be a dangerous distraction.

To avoid putting yourself in harm’s way, do not text or talk on the phone while riding a bike, stay off the sidewalk and always signal your intended turns before making a move. Taking your attention away from the road could put you at risk for missing potential road hazards, causing last minute corrections or potentially a crash with a vehicle, pedestrian or property.

Keeping your focus forward while riding a bike requires full awareness of your surroundings. Wearing headphones poses a distraction threat to cyclists. Without the ability to hear what’s going on around them, cyclists risk missing auditory warning signals from cars approaching from behind, nearby trains, buses entering and exiting the roadway and emergency vehicles.

 

Smart Pedestrians

Pedestrians should always focus forward on their path from point A to point B. Even day-to-day habits such as rummaging through a purse or backpack, reading a book, walking a dog or listening to loud music can be considered distractions when performed on a busy sidewalk or in a crosswalk. Staying aware of your surroundings and being a smart pedestrian protects your safety.

One easy way to improve your pedestrian habits is to look up from your phone while walking or step to the side and stop to send that quick text. Keeping your focus on your path ensures you won’t run into other pedestrians, cyclists, animals or unexpected objects that may cross your path. This is especially important at a crosswalk – always make eye contact with drivers before stepping into a crosswalk to avoid a collision.