Doing 2 things at once is no big deal for most of us. We talk on the phone while using our computers, listen to music as we jog and constantly multi-task around the office.
Driving also requires you to do more than 1 thing at once. While behind the wheel you need to steer, brake, shift gears and watch for traffic simultaneously. It's not an easy task and it requires a great deal of attention and concentration.
When distractions - including passengers - break a driver's concentration the risk of a serious or even fatal collision increases dramatically.
On average in Saskatchewan, more than 2,100 people are injured and 28 are killed each year in collisions involving passengers distracting a driver. In fact, driver distraction is the 2nd leading contributing factor in fatal crashes, according to our most recent statistics.
As a passenger
It's important that you respect the driver's need to remain focused on the road. You can be a big help by tuning the radio, answering calls and dealing with any disputes or problems that may occur.
Young children and pets can be especially distracting for a driver. Never travel with a child or animal in your lap or roaming freely. Instead, be sure that youngsters are properly restrained and always in the back seat. Pets should always be in a location where they are not a distraction for the driver.
As a driver
Distracted drivers react more slowly to changing traffic conditions and road hazards. They fail to recognize other vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians and may even miss important signs and lights.
Don't be afraid to tell passengers that they are being too loud or distracting. It isn't rude, but rather an indication of your concern for the safety of everyone in the vehicle.
Whether with passengers or without, never eat, groom or use cellphones behind the wheel. Operating a vehicle is already complicated enough. If you must add another distraction then do the right thing - pull over safely.