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Fort Walton BeachLegal Blog

8 tips for staying focused and alert behind the wheel

With as much of a problem as distracted driving has become, it is incredibly important for drivers to focus and stay alert behind the wheel. Many accidents happen when drivers let their minds wander or pay attention to something besides the road -- the radio, a cellphone, the GPS or a conversation with friends, for instance.

So, what can they do to really dial in and pay attention to what is happening around them? These eight tips can help:

  1. Drink enough water. People often avoid drinking water while on the road because they don't want to have to stop, but dehydration can make you feel fatigued and sluggish. Getting enough water keeps you awake.
  2. Turn off your phone notifications. You don't have to turn the device off entirely -- you may need it in an emergency -- but turning off the notifications means it doesn't suddenly pull your attention away.
  3. Chew a stick of gum. This can help you stay awake during night drives because it gives you a physical activity to do that does not inhibit your driving. It's far safer than eating behind the wheel.
  4. Keep the air conditioning on. Your body naturally tends to get comfortable and move toward sleep when you're stationary in a warm, comfortable place. Turning on the AC keeps that edge in the air so that you don't quite get comfortable enough to nod off.
  5. Drive by yourself. While it can be helpful to have someone talk to you when you're tired, passengers are more often a distraction than anything else. You wind up thinking about the conversation -- a mental distraction -- and looking at them while you talk. That's a physical distraction.
  6. Get enough sleep before driving. If you feel too tired to continue, do not be afraid to pull off of the road and take a nap. You need a well-rested mind to stay alert and focused while you drive. If that means you need to sleep for a few hours in a hotel parking lot, so be it.
  7. Don't multitask. You feel like a long, boring drive is a great time to get some other things done. Maybe you wanted to read an email or make a phone call for work or put on your makeup. Don't do it. Multitasking isn't a real thing; you just force your brain to split its attention between two tasks. This can lead to an accident.
  8. Don't drive when you're feeling too emotional. If you're elated, you may speed. If you're depressed or angry, you may stop thinking about driving and brood about whatever happened. You need to be calm and collected to drive safely.

4 questions about drunk driving stops in Florida

Seeing a police car pull up behind you leaves you with a knot in your stomach. You feel nervous even if you did not do anything wrong. This is especially true if they pull you over at 2 a.m. and you know that the officer wants to check and see if you are driving under the influence.

Maybe you have never been involved in a traffic stop like this before. You know that your nervousness and lack of experience could make you act suspiciously. Could that lead to legal trouble? To help you, here are four common questions and answers:

Mobile phones aren't the only major source of distraction

Distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions in this country. With the rise of mobile technology, there are simply too many potential distractions for people to avoid them all. However, mobile phones and tablets are not the only problem leading to dangerous distractions behind the wheel. People getting lost in thought or bored is a leading cause of distraction.

While they do pose a significant risk, screens are not the only thing keeping drivers from focusing on what is most important on the road. Understanding the major causes of distraction in a vehicle can help you in two ways. First, it can help you avoid engaging in distractions when you drive. Second, it can help you identify if someone else is driving while distracted.

Why do people experience road rage?

You accidentally cut someone off while merging onto the interstate. You checked your mirrors, but the car came up faster than you realized. The driver had to tap the brakes to keep from rear-ending you. Knowing you should have waited, you wave your apologies and feel happy you did not get in an accident.

Suddenly, that driver accelerates around you and cuts you off, nearly hitting you. You see him or her screaming out the window on the way by. You try to slow down, and the driver slams on the brakes, forcing you to veer to the side. Then, the driver cuts you off again, clipping the front of your car, and you both spin out into the wall.

Does the United States have a drunk driving culture problem?

Drunk driving never seems to end. Every year, tens of thousands of people get injured, and around 10,000 people die in DUI crashes. Someone passes away every 50 minutes. The annual cost is in excess of $44 billion.

But it still continues, year in and year out. People get behind the wheel after drinking at bars, at home or at social gatherings. Sometimes, it seems like everything we do in America is an excuse to drink: holiday parties, sporting events, trips to the beach, camping trips, gatherings with friends and far more.

5 tips for tourists on unfamiliar roads

Summer brings plenty of tourism to Florida. Children get out of school. Parents take time off of work. College students get a break that they embrace, knowing they'll have full-time jobs soon enough.

Plus, with the economy still rising after the recession a decade ago, people have more disposable income. That means more trips, more vacations and more miles on the road.

Taking action after a Florida marijuana charge

Being found with the possession of marijuana for personal use is probably the least serious drug charge in Florida. However, all drug charges in the United States can have very severe consequences. Therefore, a marijuana possession charge should never be taken lightly.

There are many defenses to having marijuana on your possession in Florida, and there is one exception to the law. Since January 3rd 2017, it has been legal to have marijuana for personal use if you have a doctor's note that suggests you should use it medically. However, if you do not have a good defense, you run the risk of being charged with a felony.

Never eat these 7 distracting foods behind the wheel

You're coming home from work when a car pulls out of the local McDonald's and cuts you off. The driver accelerates wildly and swerves between the lanes.

You slam on the brakes, holding back a yell. For a moment, the car straightens out, but it begins to slow down. Over the next mile it goes slower and slower and then starts drifting off to the right. As it hits the shoulder and rocks and dirt begin flying everywhere, the drivers straightens out and speeds up.

How traumatic brain injuries can change your life after a crash

Many people who get hurt in serious motor vehicle collisions sustain serious injuries. Some, however, are more obvious than others. Broken limbs and spinal cord injuries are often obvious right at the scene of the collision. Other, similarly serious injuries may not seem like a big issue at first.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common in many kinds of crashes. All too often, people with TBIs are able to exit their vehicle and complete a police report without realizing how serious their injuries are. That can lead to delayed treatment, worsening symptoms and difficulty in getting the compensation you deserve following a crash.

How you can protect yourself from a drunk driver

Drunk driving isn't just a legal issue. It isn't about arrest totals, fines or jail time.

It's a life issue. Some reports show that a life is lost to a drunk driver every 48 minutes, on average. If you stay home and watch one episode of your favorite show on Netflix, someone likely died while you were watching. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also claim that about 33 percent of total car accidents stem from impaired drivers.

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