Monitoring the habits of eight average drivers, Distracted While Driving highlights the bizarre, comical but ultimately perilous behaviours drivers adopt behind the wheel. For some drivers, the threat of death is enough to ensure concentration, but even those who consider themselves responsible motorists are often putting themselves and others at risk.
These are the weird, dangerous and surprisingly common things drivers should never do...
1. Do not check your phone
A classic example of driver inattention, using a phone is said to be as dangerous as driving while drunk. Admittedly, phones are a big part of modern life but the important things we use them for, like looking at cats and getting annoyed by the opinions of people we don’t like, can wait until we’ve safely pulled over.
2. Do not eat (or steer the car with your feet)
Though it can be tempting to consume a giant fruit platter while lounging in your car like it’s a bed, statistics reveal the common practice of snacking while driving substantially increases the likelihood of crashing. Legislation varies by state but the overarching rule is, if it distracts you from driving or impedes your ability to control the vehicle, it is against the law. (As such, steering with your feet is also not allowed.)
3. Do not transport a load too large for your vehicle
Transporting a bulky load presents risks such as potential loss of vehicle control, decreased vision and increased likelihood of falling debris among other issues. Experts recommend firmly securing any load and ensuring the vehicle is fit for the purpose at hand. And if you simply must transport 60 mattresses in a small truck, make multiple trips.
4. Do not apply make-up
A British poll revealed up to 450,000 road accidents were caused in a single year in the UK due to drivers applying make-up. Multi-tasking is a skill to be proud of, sure. But when those skills consist of applying make-up in a dangerous fashion and subsequently causing accidents, it becomes less impressive.
5. Do not drive a car without wheels (or that is otherwise unsafe)
As my grandfather said on his deathbed, “When driving a car, never underestimate the importance of wheels.” Though a skilled stunt driver can potentially successfully operate a car using fewer wheels than is standard, for most of us this poses a safety hazard. Regular servicing and safety inspections, such as checking your car has its requisite number of wheels, is the best option.
6. Do not drive the car if there is a small child hanging from the bumper
In fairness to the driver in this clip, rarely is this situation mentioned in any driving safety manuals. To clarify any confusion, if there is a small child hanging from the bumper, do not drive the car.
7. Under no circumstances allow your dog to drive the car
In an excellent and adorable use of their time, trainers in New Zealand have successfully taught dogs how to drive in an effort to raise awareness for animal shelters. Unfortunately, allowing a dog to drive your car remains ill-advised as most dogs will poke blindly at the controls and/or refuse to drive anywhere but the park.
8. Do not drink and drive
It may seem obvious but drink driving statistics in Australia remain alarmingly high for such a well-publicised, dangerous and avoidable infraction. Whether you’re the coach of a championship Pee-Wee hockey team or not, there is no excuse.
These are far from the only potentially dangerous things people do behind the wheel. Distracted While Driving takes an entertaining look at the dangers of driving without total focus, showcasing hazardous behaviours many viewers will find dangerously relatable. Yet despite the show’s enjoyable approach to the topic, the message is clear – driving while distracted is potentially deadly.
Accordingly, if you feel the need to do something other than drive while at the wheel, wait until it is safe to pull over. And no matter how hard they beg and no matter how much they love car rides, never allow your dog to drive.
Distracted While Driving airs 6.35pm Sunday 10 March on SBS VICELAND and then on SBS On Demand.