The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each day in the United States more than nine people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous driver distractions, but it’s not the only one. Here are seven other unsafe habits to avoid:
• Grooming. Pressed for time, some people conduct grooming activities in the car, such as putting on makeup or using an electric shaver. Do yourself and other drivers a favor by completing your morning routine at home.
• Eating and drinking. Your steaming cup of coffee spills or ingredients slip out of your sandwich — any number of distractions can arise when you drive and dine. Stay safer by saving the refreshments until you’re parked.
• Monitoring passengers. In a recent State Farm® Distracted Driving survey, 40 percent of drivers indicated that attending to children in the backseat was very distracting, while 53 percent of drivers said the same thing about having a pet in their lap while driving. Passenger distractions are particularly important for teen drivers to avoid: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm teamed up to analyze a sample of 677 teen drivers involved in serious crashes. The study found that drivers who had peer passengers were more likely to be distracted before a crash as compared to teens involved in accidents while driving solo.
• Rubbernecking. Slowing down to look at a traffic accident could cause an accident of your own. The same thing goes for lengthy looks at billboards, a street address or a great mountain view.
• Listening to music. Playing your radio at a high volume, wearing headphones or even catching a glimpse of your kids’ DVD take your focus away from the road. These distractions reduce the likelihood you’ll hear car horns, emergency vehicles or other key noises.
• Daydreaming. If you’ve ever realized you just missed an exit because you weren’t paying attention, you’ve experienced a common distraction: daydreaming. Resist the urge to drift off while driving, and keep your attention on the road. Vary your typical driving routes. A change in scenery and traffic conditions could help you stay alert.
• Nodding off. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 60 percent of Americans have admitted to driving while drowsy, and 37 percent have nodded off behind the wheel. If you feel sleepy, pull over. Walk around to rouse yourself, switch drivers or find a safe place to nap before you resume driving.
Information provided by Dan Flattery, State Farm Insurance, 24 S. 18th St., Fort Dodge, 515-955-7181, www.danflattery.com.