A distracted driver uses his phone while driving.

What to Do if You Spot a Distracted Driver

Learning how to recognize a distracted driver can take time, patience, and experience behind the wheel of your vehicle. Many drivers often pay more attention to what is happening in their cars than around them. When on the road, drivers should ensure they aren’t driving distracted, in addition to keeping an eye out for other drivers who may not be paying close attention to the road.

In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,142 deaths in car accidents caused by distracted driving. Accidents aren’t just caused by people who are driving under the influence or texting while behind the wheel; something as small as looking down to adjust the radio can have unintended consequences.

Here are some tips for recognizing the common signs of a distracted driver on the road and how to prevent further distracted driving.

How To Spot a Distracted Driver

A distracted driver might not seem evident at first, but knowing the signs of distracted driving can help you maintain your safety on the road. Look out for driving behavior such as:

●  Going too fast or too slow: Distracted drivers may not be paying attention to the speed limit or traffic flow around them.

●  Changing speed unexpectedly: Slowing down or speeding up intermittently.

●  Weaving in and out of lanes: A driver with their eyes off the road may look like they are having a hard time keeping their vehicle centered in a driving lane.

●  Longer stops: A distracted driver may pause for longer than usual at a stop sign or not react promptly to the light turning green at a stoplight.

Drivers could be doing something as minor as adjusting their radio or as significant as drunk driving. Their driving behaviors will indicate whether they are driving safely for the conditions around them. If you do observe a distracted driver around you, remember to be a defensive driver. Here are some tips for safely avoiding a distracted driver.

A distracted female driver takes her eyes off the road to adjust her stereo.

How To Avoid a Distracted Driver

If you notice a distracted driver around you, don’t panic. There are ways to make sure you and your vehicle can stay out of harm’s way. If you do notice a driver displaying some of the signs of distracted driving, you can assume they likely are not paying attention to the traffic situation around them.

Since you are paying attention to your surroundings, safely try to get out of the way of the distracted driver by slowing down to let them pass or carefully passing them. You should only take these actions if it is safe for you to do so.

One tool to identify and avoid distracted drivers is online driver’s ed. Young drivers have high accident rates, to begin with, and are susceptible to visual, cognitive, and manual distractions. New and experienced drivers can benefit from defensive driving skills.

What To Do Next

If a distracted driver is endangering others and you cannot avoid them on the road, call 911. Reckless drivers need to be stopped before they hurt anyone, including themselves. Do not try to pull the distracted driver over, get their attention, or otherwise engage with them; that is best left to the police.

If you report a distracted driver to the authorities, give a clear description of their vehicle and their driving behaviors. You may not be able to assume what is distracting them (such as driving and texting), but you can describe what they are doing.

How to Prevent Distracted Driving

Drivers can’t always prevent someone else from driving distracted, but there are ways to make sure you don’t contribute to the problem. Here are a few ways to avoid driving distracted:

●  Don’t text and drive. Hands-free devices are better if you must use a cell phone but still serve as a driving distraction.

●  Adjust your seats, radio, mirrors, and anything else before you get on the road. 

●  Be aware of cognitive distractions while driving, such as passengers in the vehicle.

●  Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

●  Be mindful of when you are driving. Some people find it more challenging to focus when driving at night.

●  Try not to drive tired. Driving while fatigued can be as dangerous as driving drunk.

●  Safely pull over if you need to take a break from driving or if you need to respond to a call or text.

Alliance Defensive Driving School Keeps Your Loved Ones Safe

If you or a loved one needs driving lessons in San Diego County, Alliance has the best teachers around. We’ll teach you more about the types of distracted driving you can face in a motor vehicle. To learn more about what to do if you spot a distracted driver, contact the Alliance Defensive Driving School experts. Our licensed professionals will be happy to answer any questions you have. 

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