The story is one that we hear all too often: an accident causing serious injury or even fatality due to distracted driving. Driving is about getting from Point A to Point B in a safe manner, but more than ever, we continue to put lives at risk by taking our eyes, ears, and attention off America’s roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at any given daylight moment across the United States, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices – a number that only continues to increase.
While there continues to be an uptick in incidents, distracted driving isn’t new, and it can be prevented. Whether it’s visual – taking your eyes off the road, manual – taking your hands off the wheel, or cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing, remember what mom and dad told you: “Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.” If that’s not enough, here’s our list of ways to maintain your focus and drive safer starting now.
4 Tips to Turn Distracted Drivers Into Safe Drivers
Turn off your phone.
A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that drowsy drivers are still attentive to their smartphones: 34% of teens in the study reported they glance at app notifications when they’re driving, and 88% of those who consider themselves “safe” drivers confess to using apps when they’re behind the wheel. The text or app notification can wait. Put your phone out of reach. You know the saying: Out of sight, out of mind. Apply it to your phone and reach your destination safely.
Drive time is quiet time.
Many people experience anxiety while driving, but you can help alleviate the stress by trying to relax. Stop jamming out to the music, set down your coffee mug, and chill out during your commute. Use the drive time to gather your thoughts and concentrate on traffic.
Let your passengers do the work.
This one is simple: your job is to drive the vehicle, and if you’re fortunate enough to have company in the vehicle, put them to work. Let them map out the directions, text for you, and get the fast food situation under control. It will take potentially dangerous distractions off your plate.
Use Bluetooth and voice commands.
If you have to use your phone to call or text, Bluetooth might be your best option because it keeps your hands on the wheel. Be careful; you still need to be mindful of the road.
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A Step-by-Step Guide to Auto Accidents with Uninsured Motorists
Today’s Technology Can Help Distracted Drivers
While smartphones ping, buzz and vibrate away, there is also interest in equipping today’s vehicles with safety features to allow drivers to use them safely. New operating systems can send texts dictated by the driver and read them aloud, without touching or looking at the phone. General Motors is reportedly installing sensors in its next generation of vehicle that will detect drivers’ eye and head motions and alert drivers to prolonged moments of distractions. Additionally, some technology allows parents to block calls and texts when teens are driving.
Auidovox’s Car Connection helps parents track where their children are driving and provides them with alerts if the car moves out of a designated area, but it also can prevent phones from sending/receiving text messages on the road. Or there are apps like AT&T DriveMode, which silences alerts and intercepts text messages when you’re moving more than 15 mph.
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Get a Grip on Wet Weather Driving
Accidents do happen, but distracted driving shouldn’t be the reason. Be sure to talk to your local Farm Bureau agent to make sure you’re properly covered.
6 Stats that Show How Dangerous Distracted Driving Really Is
9: Number of Americans killed each day from motor vehicle accidents that involved distracted driving, such as using a cellphone, texting or eating.
1 in 4: The probability that a motor vehicle crash involved a cellphone.
40%: The percentage of teens who say they’ve been a passenger in a car whose driver used a cellphone in a way that put them in danger.
33%: The percentage of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 who reported reading or writing a text message while driving in the previous month.
2: Number of seconds a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.
5: Number of seconds drivers take their eyes off the road to send a text message, on average.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Distracted Driving
Federal Communications Commission: The Dangers of Texting While Driving
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Distracted Driving in the United States and Europe
National Safety Council: Annual Estimate of Cell Phone Crashes 2013
Journal of Adolescent Health: Keep Your Eyes on the Road
International Business Times: Texting Drivers Take Eyes Off Road Every 5 Seconds on Average: Study