Don’t let driving distractions get the best of you — you need the best of you to concentrate on the road. According to the CDC, there are three types of driving distractions:
• Visual — taking your eyes off the road.
• Manual — taking your hands off the wheel.
• Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing.
Avoid these common distractions, many of which fall into all three categories:
Cell phones. Probably the biggest issue for drivers is the cell phone. Making calls, sending texts, taking pics — guilty as charged? According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 69 percent of U.S. drivers age 18 – 64 reported they’d talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed. And 31 percent admitted they’d read or sent text or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before surveyed.
Using a cell phone while you drive can reduce the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent, according to research by Carnegie Mellon. And according to the National Safety Council, as of late May this year in the U.S, an estimated 395,525 lives have been lost due to crashes involving drivers using cell phones and texting.
The facts speak for themselves. It’s important that you put your cell phone away while you’re behind the wheel. If you do have to accept or make an important call, pull your car over to a safe spot and then handle the call.
Eating and drinking. Drive time may seem like a convenient time to grab a snack or beverage, but that convenience should be secondary to your safety. Both your hands should be free to drive.
Adjusting music and other controls. It’s best to adjust your radio, iPod or CDs — whatever you’re listening to — before you switch from “park” to “drive.” It’s the same for the other car controls, like the heat or air conditioning. Drive means drive.
GPS and maps. Figure out where you’re going and how to get there before you head out, not while you’re driving. It’s too distracting to deal with setting your GPS or opening a map when you’re at the wheel.
Distracted driving can cause a range of potential consequences, including inability to avoid a collision with another vehicle, drifting from lane to lane, reduced awareness of the situation and a decreased ability to obey traffic laws and road signs. Do what’s right for you, your passengers, pedestrians and other drivers —don’t drive distracted.
Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Distracted_Driving/index.html, http://www.cmu.edu/news/archive/2008/March/march5_drivingwhilelistening.shtml, http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/DIstracted_Driving/Pages/ Distracted DrivingResearchandStatistics.aspx.
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