Distracted Driving: How to protect yourself and others

So much to do, so little time. Right? That’s what people are saying to justify multitasking behind the wheel.

They are talking on the phone, eating meals, texting friends, reading letters, applying makeup, checking Facebook and even changing clothes while driving. In the process, those distracted drivers are making the roads a lot less safe for everyone else.

You’re probably not the one holding a coffee cup in one hand, a cell phone in the other and driving with your knee. But here are some pointers that could keep you from becoming one of the thousands of distracted drivers involved in crashes every day.


  • Distracted driving contributes to about 8,000 crashes every day.
  • At any given time, 800,000 people are using a handheld cell phone while driving, which quadruples their risk of a crash.
  • The nation’s youngest drivers – ages 20 and younger – are the most likely to be involved in an accident linked to distracted driving. Not surprising, perhaps, when one in four teen drivers admit to texting behind the wheel.
  • Distracted driving was to blame for 5,474 traffic deaths in 2009. An additional 448,000 people were injured.


So how can you keep your mind on the road when there are so many other things – whether it be cell phones, CDs or hamburgers – competing for your attention? Here are some tips, courtesy of the AAA Foundation, that might help reduce distractions while in the driver’s seat.

Plan ahead: Before you hit the road, read a map and check traffic conditions.

Turn off your phone: As hard as that may sound, turning off your phone will reduce the temptation to talk or text while driving.

Prepare children and pets for the trip: Make sure to buckle your kids, and get them set up with snacks and entertainment, before you head down the highway. The same goes for pets. Get them situated for the trip before you go.

Satisfy cravings off the road: Eat meals and snacks before hopping in the driver’s seat. If you plan to travel a long distance, take a break during meal times.

Avoid unnecessary clutter: Stow away any loose objects that could roll around while you’re driving. Those objects are bound to take your attention away from the road.

Don’t change clothes: Your car isn’t a dressing room. Don’t try to swap outfits, apply makeup or shave while driving. Do that before you leave or after you reach your destination.

Get your head in the game: Focus on what you’re supposed to be doing: driving. Don’t let your attention wander from the traffic ahead, where you want to be the first to spot brake lights or a possible obstruction in the road.


Thanks for taking a moment to think about safe driving. We appreciate that. And we appreciate you. Here’s a little laugh to wrap things up.

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