By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Thursday, March 18, 2021
Sleep is precious, and mornings are busy, so it’s no surprise people end up running the electric shaver over their 5 o’clock shadow or applying makeup while driving to work.
However, next time you reach for your mascara, shaver or even toothbrush while you’re behind the wheel, you may want to return the item to your toiletries bag and focus on driving.
Why? Well, you’ll be driving distracted. As you shave or apply makeup, you’ll be removing your hands from the wheel and regularly looking in the mirror. Your focus won’t be on the road.
Not only is this dangerous, but you could end up in hot water with the police. The law states that a driver needs to have proper control of their vehicle at all times. This applies when you’re waiting at lights or in a queue of traffic as well. Traffic queues move and stop often without warning, so you need to be ready to always respond appropriately.
If you’re self-grooming while driving and police determine you aren’t in proper control of your vehicle, you risk a $197 fine, plus a $90 Victims of Crime Levy.
In more serious cases, you could be charged for driving without due care or attention. This could land you a court date and a fine of up to $2500.
RAA Senior Manager of Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain said that when you’re behind the wheel, you shouldn’t be self-grooming.
“Motorists should avoid doing anything that takes their attention away from the road,” Mr Mountain said.
When self-grooming, your hands might be off the wheel or you could be looking in the mirror, rather than focussing on what’s in front of you on the road.
“Whether it’s personal grooming, eating while driving or using a mobile phone, driver distraction is one of the biggest causes of crashes on our roads and can have tragic consequences.”
In fact, driver distraction has contributed to almost half the lives lost and people seriously injured on South Australian roads in the past 5 years, police figures show.
Different forms of self-grooming can impact your ability to drive in different ways. Here are 5 common grooming distractions and their possible effects.
1. Brushing your teeth
Brushing your teeth while driving also diverts your attention and requires taking at least one hand off the wheel.
Plus, teeth brushing is hard to do without making a mess and, where are you spitting after brushing?
Shaving requires at least one of your hands to be off the wheel. You’ll also need to take your eyes off the road to see what you’re doing.
If you’re using a razor, you’re bound to get whiskers everywhere. Worse still, you could even cut yourself while driving, which increases your chances of having a crash.
It’s probably best to leave the shaver at home or grow a beard – after all they’re currently in fashion.
3. Applying makeup
Unless you want to look like a mess when you reach your destination, applying makeup requires one or both of your hands, and even skilled makeup artists need an occasional glance into a mirror for a progress check.
When you’re driving – all your attention should be on what’s happening on the road – so leave the final touches until you’ve safely parked.
4. Fixing your hair
Once again, you’ll only have one hand on the wheel as you fuss about with your hair. You’ll also be looking in the mirror to check the results, rather than looking out for that cyclist as you veer into the bike lane.
If you’re combing or brushing your hair, you’ll need to move your hand around your head, which will obscure your view of the road.
5. Adjusting your tie
Adjusting or putting on a tie requires both hands and a mirror to see what you’re doing. You may think it will only take a moment, but a car crash can happen in a split second.
It’s best to wait until you arrive at work to straighten your tie.
While mornings are busy, Mr Mountain said it’s best to do any personal grooming before you get in the car and start driving.
“It might save time to get ready while driving to work or dropping the children off at school, but it could come at a cost,” he said.
“Give yourself enough time at home to shave, apply your makeup or do your hair, so your full attention is on the road when driving.
“Save any last-minute final touches until you arrive at your destination and have parked your vehicle.”