Top 10 Tips to Stop Distracted Driving Before it Stops You

Attentive driving. There's not an app for that. Don't let texts, calls, or other distraction divert your eyes from the road ahead.
Driver sending a text message
Originally published by Shepherd Center.

Distracted driving has increasingly become a cause of motor vehicle crashes. The prevalence of smart phones and a culture of constant social connection has created a deadly combination with motor vehicles. One out of 10 drivers on the road is using their phone for something, making them four times more likely to crash. Distracted driving includes texting and answering emails, talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup and even, changing the music on a portable electronic device.

Here is a list of tips to help you stay focused when you're behind the wheel. Share this information in your neighborhood, school, hospital or other community organization to raise awareness about how to avoid the dangers of distracted driving. Don't let incoming texts get in the way of oncoming traffic!

1. Out of sight, out of mind

Put the phone on vibrate or silent and put it where you can’t see it while driving. This will reduce your urge to answer calls or read texts and emails. Cover it with your purse; put it in the glove compartment – whatever you have to do. Just get it out of sight!

2. What’s the opposite of multi-tasking?

It’s PAYING ATTENTION! Start thinking of the car as a place to accomplish one simple thing – driving. You may be surprised to find that driving becomes much less stressful when you give the task at hand your full attention.

3. Plan ahead

Set your music to play, make phone calls and send texts before you start the car. If you need to use GPS, use a voice command version and set it up in advance. If you get lost, pull over to a safe location and get your bearings. Looking at a map application while you’re driving is just as bad, if not worse, than texting!

4. Buckle up!

This should go without saying, but always, always, always wear your seatbelt. Most accidents happen very close to home and there’s no safe distance to ride in the car without a seatbelt.

5. Block it out

If you just can’t resist the call of the smart phone, consider call-blocking technology. There are a number of free applications you can use to disarm your text and phone functions while you’re in the car. You’ll have to discipline yourself to use them, but they may help you as you try to develop better habits.

6. Change expectations

Make it clear to friends and family that you are not willing to drive distracted, which means they should not expect to talk to you while you’re driving. Change your outgoing voicemail message to say “I’m either away from the phone or I’m driving. I’ll call you back as soon as I’m safely able to do so.”

7. Work it out
If you must drive a lot for work, add in time to your schedule to make and receive calls at your last location or in the parking lot before you start driving. Stop thinking of the car as an extension of the office, unless it’s in park. It may be more challenging to get work done, but not nearly as challenging as a car accident would be. Enjoy having some time in the car to yourself.
8. Take advantage

Allow passengers to make calls or send texts for you. Simple!

9. Pay it forward

Don’t expect others to respond to texts, emails or calls while they’re driving. If you realize that someone you’ve called is driving, insist on ending the conversation until they’re no longer behind the wheel.

10. Don’t give up!

As with any bad habit, you may find it difficult to change your mobile device behavior in the car. If you find yourself backsliding, reread these tips and the Safe Driving Pledge and hit the mental reset button. Think of all the reasons you have to arrive safely. Help change the culture of distracted driving so that focused, attentive driving becomes the norm.

Distracted Driving: Don't Let This Happen to You!

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