Avoiding the Dangers of Distracted Driving

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Your driver’s education instructor told you to keep your hands at ten and two and your eyes on the road for good reason. They’re behaviors that will keep you safe from the dangers of distracted driving.

More than 20 percent of all crashes occur because a driver has taken his attention off the road. You don’t have to become one of these sad statistics if you remember which activities are best carried out when your car’s in Park.

  • Eating, drinking, and smoking: Dropped ashes can set you and your car on fire. Eating and drinking — and the spills that will inevitably happen as a result — cause you to take your hands off the wheel.

  • Putting on makeup, brushing your hair, tying your tie: If you’re busy checking yourself out in the rear view or vanity mirror, you’re not defensively concentrating on the vehicles and pedestrians in front, behind, and beside you.

  • Texting, accessing the Internet, watching videos, playing video games or choosing songs from your playlist: All of these activities require your hands, eyes, and mind, so you can’t do these and be fully engaged in safely operating a multi-ton piece of equipment. Text, surf, and play with your other electronic gadgets the only time it’s safe to do so: when you’re not driving.

    Preset your radio to your favorite stations and create a playlist of your favorite songs before you hit the highway. Doing so will help ensure your music doesn’t take your mind off safely steering your automobile.

  • Having emotional conversations: If your car talk is getting angry, loud, and/or teary, pull off to the side of the road or into a parking lot until the mood in the car is calm enough for you to be able to focus on driving.

  • Reading maps and GPS devices: Either have a passenger plot your path, or stop the car until you’ve got your own bearings.

  • Talking on the phone: Maybe you’re telling yourself, “Hey, I know dialing a phone number or holding a phone can be dangerous, but I’ve got a hands-free, voice-activated phone. That means I’m safe.” Well, not according to researchers. They’ve found that it’s the conversation that distracts drivers, not the device.

    Drivers who use cell phones suffer from inattention blindness. They’re so busy concentrating on their conversation, that they’ll look at, but not see, up to half of what’s around them on the road.

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