As a professional driver, you understand the importance of staying focused on driving – and only driving – while operating a motor vehicle. Distractions take a motorist’s attention off the task of driving, and can cause the driver to miss critical events or cues, and make him/her less able to properly react to them. Although you can’t control the actions of other motorists, knowing the signs to look for to spot a distracted driver can help you avoid a crash or possibly minimize the severity of an accident.

Signs That a Driver is Distracted

Many of the warning signs of a distracted driver are the same as those of drunken or fatigued drivers and can include:

• Drifting or swerving from lane;

• Weaving through traffic;

• Following too closely;

• Sudden braking in reaction to normal traffic stops;

• Running red lights or stop signs;

• Stopping longer than necessary at a traffic light or sign;

• Driving much slower than the speed limit or flow of traffic;

• Driving much faster than the speed limit or flow of traffic;

• Needlessly changing speed.

What You Can Do

Part of staying in control is being aware of other drivers around you so you’re less likely to be caught off guard. Remember to keep your eyes moving, check your mirrors frequently and scan conditions at least 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. If you witness any of the above behaviors from a driver with whom you’re sharing the road or if you spot another driver texting; talking on a cell phone; grooming themselves; reading a map; talking to passengers; reaching for something in the vehicle; smoking; or adjusting vehicle controls:

• Be mindful that the driver may not see your vehicle;

• Give the driver a wide berth;

• Try to pull ahead of the driver, or slow down and let them pull ahead;

• Call 911 and report your concerns if a driver is operating so dangerously that he/she poses an imminent threat to others.

Distracted drivers put not only themselves at risk, but everyone else on the road. By staying alert for distracted drivers and using proper defensive driving skills, you can help avoid the dangers caused by other motorists’ poor decisions.