Distracted driving

I live in a gated estate and like many, spend a bit of time either walking, running or riding at different times of the day. On any given day, driving home, or whenever walking or riding around I am struck by how many people are using their cell phones while driving.

In addition, on the drive in to work in the mornings, I have also noted people reading newspapers, and watching movies and videos on a cell phone while driving.

This practice of diverting of attention from driving is dangerous. Distractions while driving can be in the form of visual (seeing), cognitive (thinking) and or auditory (listening, hearing) distractions.

Cell phones are particularly bad because they usually cause all three forms of distraction- you are looking at the phone, listening to it and more often than not, paying attention to it, and therefore not focused on the road. I find people also are sending text messages while driving, also called “drexting”.

Another really important and often overlooked form of distracted driving is having young children sitting in the front seat, a practice that should be actively prevented. This is quite common in and around Lagos- I see young families, with Dad driving, and Mum and young child sitting in front very commonly. I have also seen drivers with young children in their laps in front of the steering wheel while driving.

A driver in Lagos in early morning traffic using her phone
A driver in Lagos in early morning traffic using her phone

Sometimes, I see a baby strapped into a car seat which has been placed on the front passenger seat. This is wrong because car seats are not supposed to be in the front seat at all. Children are best seated in back seats in age-appropriate restraints.

Children seated on front seats are actually quite unsafe, they are a potential missile if the driver applies the brakes suddenly, and they could be thrown out through the windshield.

Distracted driving is of particular concern in our many densely populated living areas in Lagos, where children may be running around on the streets, and may not see cars coming and/or the drivers of the cars may see them too late to stop.


It is also of concern in residential estates, where the practice once many get “safely inside”, is to whip out their cell phones and “resume”- free from the dreaded Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) officials, but putting many unsuspecting riders, pedestrians and playing children at risk.

Combined with under-age driving or driving under the influence (of alcohol or other drugs or intoxicants)- DUI- it makes for a potentially deadly combination.

It is now therefore increasingly important to educate drivers and road users at every opportunity on the dangers of distracted driving, with a view to heightening the vigilance of road users and drivers, and reducing the risk of preventable accidents.

Other potential distractions include drivers applying makeup, eating and drinking while driving, listening to loud music or with both earphones plugged in while driving.

  • To minimise distractions, it is best to have both hands on the wheels, eyes on the road and mind present to ensure accident free roads.
  • Having a passenger assist you with whatever might be a potential distraction is best.
  • Silencing phones whilst while driving is a good policy.
  • Keeping them in the back seat even better- this way they are simply out of reach until you reach your destination, and even if another driver is distracted you are focused and that too, might prevent you from getting into an accident.
  • Drive safely. Safety First!!!

Written by Dr. Orode Doherty, Managing Director at Ingress Health Partners.

Article originally appeared on LinkedIn. Reprinted with permission from the Author.

Please follow and like us: