It’s no secret distracted driving is devastating — responsible for millions of dollars in accident costs and injuring and killing thousands of drivers each year. It’s time to dig deeper into your behaviors behind the wheel. Read on to see our tips for distracted driving prevention.
Hit the App Store
You know you should stash your phone while you drive and ignore incoming communications, but technology could help you do even more. There are plenty of apps to prevent distracted driving, so hit the app store before you hit the road. AT&T DriveMode — which kicks in when your car starts moving — silences text alerts and auto-replies to new messages. OneTap works similarly: Enter your drive time or destination, and the app will notify those who contact you with when they can expect to hear back. OMW (On My Way) lets your friends track your trip and plan for your arrival. No need for the “Be there soon!” text from a few blocks away. Yes, that’s dangerous, even on a quiet neighborhood street.
Prep for Your Trip
Don’t wait until you’re on the road to prepare for your drive. Whether you’re heading to work or embarking on a road trip, take a minute or two to set up everything you might need. Adjust your mirrors, plug your destination into your GPS or maps app (turn up the sound to ensure you won’t need to see your phone screen) and prepare your payment for the toll road. Turn on a playlist you won’t want to skip through and stash a bottle of water in an easy-to-access cup holder.
Manage Your Passengers
Eliminating distractions isn’t just about seeing to your own needs. Adult passengers can help you navigate, switch the tunes and answers calls or texts. But kids and pets may instead require your attention. Once again, preparation is key. Having to reach back to find the baby’s favorite toy or stop the dog from climbing all over you could mean taking your eyes off the road. If you have an animal that needs attention in the car, consider instead putting it in a crate to make a safer ride for both of you. Make sure kids are armed with snacks and toys before you start the car, and if a little one needs help, take the time to pull over.
Eat Smarter, or Not at All
A greasy burger or piping-hot coffee could spell trouble if you hit a bump. Drivers who are eating or drinking are 3.6 times more likely to be in an accident; reaction times have been shown to increase 50 percent when drivers eat behind the wheel. If you can, avoid chowing down on the road all together. Eating before or after your trip could help you — and those driving around you — avoid a collision.
If you’re going to be in the car for an extended period or otherwise can’t avoid eating behind the wheel, go for something less likely to make a mess. Protein bars, string cheese and nuts are good grab-and-go options. Avoid foods you need utensils to eat or anything that’s likely to end up in your lap. The safety administration names burgers, chili, soup and tacos among the most dangerous foods to chow down on behind the wheel.
Get Ready at Home
It’s tempting to use all those minutes stuck in traffic to apply make-up, pluck your brows or even shave, but the risk isn’t worth it. Instead of viewing time waiting in gridlock as free time, know it’s still time you need to be engaged — hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier and take care of your grooming at home. Take a look at other dangerous driving habits.
Avoiding distractions behind the wheel is everyone’s business. Our Young Driver Safety Program is designed to help the newest drivers develop safe driving habits. Our Driveology program rewards safe drivers, too. Contact your Farm Bureau agent to learn more about these programs.