Distractions are all around us. Whether it’s the text message that buzzes your phone during math class, or your favorite TV show that’s interrupting your homework session. Distractions can be especially dangerous while driving. Moving down the highway at 65 miles per hour is not the ideal time to have your attention diverted to something else. Operating a moving vehicle requires your full attention. Sorry, but those self-driving cars are a few years away! For the foreseeable future, you’ll need to give the road your full attention.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found five actions that distract drivers and lead to crashes. Check out our advice below on how to avoid these distractions so you stay safe on the road.
Common driving distractions and how to avoid them
1. Cell Phone Use. This one probably isn’t much of a surprise. Since most Americans own a cell phone, we are using them constantly to communicate. But talking and texting while driving takes your attention – and your eyes – off the road in front of you. What’s the easiest way to avoid this distraction? Don’t use your cell phone while driving – no exceptions! Turn the ringer off, switch to airplane mode or just simply turn it off. Whatever conversation you were having can pick-up in 20 minutes when you arrive at your destination. Don’t be afraid to remind your parents or the friend you’re talking to that you’re getting ready to drive and you’ll talk to them once you get to your destination.
2. Reaching for an Object in Your Car. Maybe you’re reaching for a pair of gloves in your bag. Maybe you don’t like the song playing on the radio. Or perhaps your dog is along for the ride and is overly excited about the scenery. Whatever you might be reaching for, just stop! Wait until you’re stopped at an intersection, or better yet pull into a parking lot. Yes, your hands might be cold for another minute or two. But it’s better than diverting your eyes from the road and risking a crash. And have your parents invest in a seat belt for your dog. It will be money well spent!
3. Diverting Attention to an Event Outside Your Vehicle. Do you have to catch a glimpse of that crash on the other side of the road? It’s a common occurrence called rubber-necking. Drivers do it every day. And then suddenly there is a crash on your side on the road. While it can be tempting to look at something outside your car, keep your eyes on the road in front of you. You can always check Twitter when you get home to see what was happening.
4. Reading. Yep, you read that correctly. There are people who read while driving. They might think they’re multi-tasking superstars, but in reality they are endangering everyone on the road. So even if you didn’t finish that book for English class, keep it in your backpack while driving. Get up a few minutes early and speed read before class starts, not while you’re maneuvering through morning rush hour.
5. Putting on Makeup. We all want to look presentable. But if your destination ends up being the hospital rather than a movie with friends, then touching-up your lip gloss probably wasn’t worth it. If you’re running late, finish fixing your make-up when your car is safely parked!
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