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Ten tips to avoid distracted driving

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Apr 9, 2013 11:43:00 AM

Woman Driving And TextingDo you feel your life is more hectic than a few years ago? Maybe you’re eating fast food more often, constantly multi-tasking, cutting out activities you used to enjoy, and getting less sleep. If so, be warned! Sometimes, the changes we make to cope with our busy lives have negative consequences. Auto accidents are one of them.

There are three main types of driving distractions:

  • Visual – taking your eyes off the road;

  • Manual taking your hands off the wheel; and

  • Cognitive – taking your mind off the task of driving.

Driving distractions include:

  • Texting;

  • Talking on a cell phone or Smartphone;

  • Eating fast food;

  • Drinking your favorite beverage;

  • Shaving;

  • Applying makeup:

  • Reading;

  • Using a GPS; and

  • Changing the radio station, inserting a CD, or scrolling for music on your infotainment center.

If you’ve ever missed your turn, don’t remember turning onto your street, or reached your destination wondering where the time went, you were distracted. For many of us, driving is the most dangerous thing we do daily. So, for your safety and those around you, paying close attention is vital when you’re behind the wheel.

Even small increases in your attentiveness can make a positive difference. Here are some ways to do that: 

1. Turn off your phone when you get in the car.

One of the most important steps to reduce driving distractions is to turn off your phone when you get in the car. With the constant notifications, calls, and text messages that come through our smartphones, it's easy to get tempted to check them while driving. However, this can significantly increase the risk of accidents. Turning off your phone eliminates the temptation and creates a safer driving environment for yourself and others on the road.

2. Stop somewhere safe (and legal) to answer incoming calls and text messages.

Many states have laws prohibiting texting while in your car. 

3. Familiarize yourself with the equipment/features in your car.

You should be able to turn on your wipers, heat, air conditioning, etc., without taking your eyes off the road. If you get a new car, park it and practice finding the equipment/features with your eyes closed.

4. Assign someone to be responsible for handling phone calls and text messages while you're driving.

5. Enter GPS coordinates before driving away.

If you use a GPS, don’t try to enter an address or location coordinates while driving. Also, make sure audio turn-by-turn directions are on and easy to hear. 

6. Take a moment to calm your emotions before getting behind the wheel.

If you receive upsetting news or have a difficult conversation before driving, let yourself regain your focus and composure.

7. Stop at a safe location to address backseat situations with your children.

Never drive with your head in the back seat.

8. Don’t let your pets roam freely in your car.

Make sure they are appropriately secured.

9. Don’t drive if you’re tired.

Make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep each night. 

10. Avoid using your knees as a substitute for driving.

Eat before you leave for your destination, or stop at a safe place.

Do you have any suggestions or information you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.

Topics: Driving

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