Every day, millions of people get behind the wheel of a car. And while it may seem like no big deal, driving a car is serious business. When we’re just 16 years old, we’re permitted to operate a powerful vehicle. Think of all the 16 year olds you know… scary right? Don’t get us wrong, when used correctly, cars are a wonderful tool. They save us time and make traveling convenient. But when used incorrectly, people can be seriously harmed.
Now more than ever we’re busy, arguably, too busy. We know why it’s tempting to use your daily commute to multi-task. Maybe that’s making a phone call to a friend, applying makeup on the way to work, eating a quick breakfast, checking emails, or, you guessed it – texting. And even if you know better than to take your hands or eyes off the wheel, sometimes passengers can be distracting as well. In fact, in one study, passengers led to more distracted driving car accidents involving teenagers than texting did! (1)
According to the CDC, every day in the U.S. alone 1,060 people are injured and 9 are killed in car accidents involving a distracted driver.(2) That’s too many.
Maybe you think that checking your phone quickly is no big deal, but on average, texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds.(2) And of course, in some cases, for much longer. A lot can happen on the road in that time, and having your eyes off the road (even for a second) can cause an accident.
5 tips to reduce distracted driving:
Delegate. Hand over the phone. Co-pilots are for more than picking good music. If you think you’ll be tempted to text, ask a passenger to respond to any text messages that just can’t wait.
Outsmart yourself. Riding solo? If you’re working to break the habit of reaching for your phone, put your phone out of reach so that you’re not tempted to grab it. Lock it in the trunk if you have to.
Press pause. In the middle of an important conversation? Before you put the car in gear, simply let that person know you’re getting ride to drive, and that you’ll text back when you reach your destination. No hurt feelings!
Map it. If you’ll be relying on a GPS to get you to your destination, make sure you have the volume on so that you’re not glancing down as you drive. And even better, double check your route before you take off so that you have a general idea of where you’re headed.
- Plan ahead. Mornings can be hectic. But if you’re running out the door planning to eat breakfast while you drive, a little strategy can help. For example, use an insulated container that will keep your breakfast warm until you get to work and then eat it while you check your email. Distracted email checking is much safer than distracted driving!
Some other reminders:
- If you’re teaching a teen how to drive, make sure that you lead by example. Put your own phone away when you drive, and explain to them the scary consequences that can come from distracted driving.
- If you’re in the car as a passenger, try not to distract the driver. And if you notice them texting or adjusting the GPS, offer to help so that they can keep their eyes on the road.
A final word:
Sometimes accidents are caused by distracted driving, and no one is harmed. But even in those cases, distracted driving has its costs. Getting in an accident can cause you to lose good-driver discounts or prompt your premium to increase. Best case, your insurance company cuts you a break. But, as cases of distracted driving cause more and more accidents, premiums across the board will continue to rise as car insurance companies attempt to recoup their losses.
Nobody wins when it comes to distracted driving. Put your phone down and remind others to do the same.