Distracted drivers pose a deadly risk to everyone on the road. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that nearly 5,500 people lost their lives and another 448,000 were injured in police-reported crashes in which one form of distraction was noted on the crash report.
Drivers engage in a range of distracting activities. Here are 10 tips for managing some of the most common distractions:
1. Turn it off. Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
2. Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, or sign up for a service that does this for you.
3. Groom at home. Shaving and applying makeup are best done prior to getting in the car.
4. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call for you.
5. Stay safer, text later. Don’t text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in Illinois.
6. Familiarize. If you’re traveling, know the state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones. For a listing of state laws, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com. If you’re traveling in a rental car, familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s features before getting behind the wheel.
7. Plan ahead. Program GPS systems and review maps and directions before you start driving. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger or pull over to a safe location.
8. Secure your pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
9. Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
10. Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your hands, mind or eyes of the road.
More information on distracted driving and how to stay safe behind the wheel can be found here.