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Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Published February 18, 2019

Anyone who has driven a vehicle on the public roadways knows that there a number of ways a driver may become distracted. Texting and driving, talking on your cell phone, applying make-up, eating, and other people in the car are all examples of how one could easily have their attention diverted. If the temptation to take your eyes off the road feels all too familiar, here are 8 ways you can help yourself avoid distractions.

Remember: You’re Going Faster than You Think
You may be surprised to learn just how fast you are actually traveling down the highway. Even traveling at 65mph, your car travels over 95 feet per second. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Fact Sheet states that 5 seconds is all it takes/the typical length of time for a distraction to occur. That’s long enough to travel the length of one and a half football fields. Keep this in mind the next time you feel tempted to shift your focus while driving.

Hang Up and Drive
Texting/utilizing a cell phone in any capacity is the most common distractions among drivers. Michigan law states that a driver who becomes distracted by using a cell phone and therefore commits a traffic violation could be charged with careless driving or with a specific violation, such as improper lane use if they are drifting in and out of their lane. Even though many newer-model vehicles have hands-free functionality built into the infotainment system for phone calls and can read and reply to texts, the best way to ensure safety will always be to stay off your phone while you are behind the wheel.

Don’t Eat or Drink While Driving
Because of busy schedules and the availability of drive-through coffee and food emporiums, it can be difficult to imagine not utilizing your travel time to consume but try. Eating and drinking are among some the biggest driving distractions — everything from dripping mustard to spilling hot coffee on yourself has the potential to create a distraction that could result in a collision. The average service time at fast-food restaurants is just over three minutes. Take the extra 10 additional minutes to eat your lunch at a table or in your parked car and allocate for the time in your routine so you aren’t trying to merge on the highway, change lanes, check your blind spot and eat breakfast.

Make Certain Pets are Safe and Secure
A loose pet in the vehicle is an inevitable way to cause a distraction. There have been multiple reports of accidents that have occurred because a pet crawled down by the driver’s feet or almost leaped from the window of a moving car. There are safety belts and harnesses, car seats for pets, crates, and barriers available on the market and they are specifically designed to keep your furry loved ones from causing a distraction. Additionally, your pets will be safer as well.

Set Your Destination Before You Leave
Many new vehicles now come equipped with a navigation system built into the infotainment system in the center console. But, even if you don’t have an onboard navigation system, you likely have access to a traffic app on your smartphone or tablet. You want to avoid having to deal with entering a route (or having to select from several options) once you start driving. So, plan ahead and have your destination pre-programmed or at least pre-determined. If you are forced to re-route, instead of fumbling for directions, take the time to pull over and reset.

Drive Calmly
In the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day” actor Bill Murray’s advice to Phil, the groundhog was: “don’t drive angry.” This is actually incredibly sound advice for every driver on the road. When you are driving, the road and your car should have your full attention. Avoid any unnecessary driving — even for a short errand — if you’re emotionally upset. Additionally, try not to get upset while driving. Road rage is an increasing issue among American drivers and generally, the damage and danger it can lead to is not worth the aggravation or the distraction.

Tune Before You Travel
Oftentimes, drivers can become distracted while trying to find a program to listen to during their route. Take a precaution here and load your music or podcasts onto your smartphone, and use an Aux cable or the Bluetooth feature to stream talk or tunes through your vehicle’s audio system. Plug in or make the connection before you pull out of the driveway. Many systems give you the ability to select music or podcast by voice command so there’s no need to take your eyes off the road.
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