Have you ever had an important phone call or text message come through while you were behind the wheel? It's a common situation that many drivers face, and it can too easily result in dangerous distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers each day.
How can you keep yourself, your passengers and others on the road safe? Stay informed and discourage distractions in the car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classifies driving distractions in three ways: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off the act of driving).
This means that any multitasking behind the wheel is considered distracted driving. To stay safe, set some guidelines for yourself and other drivers in your family:
- Eat snacks and meals before you start driving. If you must snack, choose quick, convenient foods that aren't messy or complicated to eat.
- Never apply makeup, finish dressing or attempt grooming while driving.
- Avoid electronic distractions by mapping routes before you begin driving and disabling text and email push notifications on your phone.
- Use Bluetooth or other hands-free devices in an emergency.
- If you need to address a distraction, wait until you can pull over to a safe spot.
Distracted Driving Laws
Many states now have laws and regulations surrounding common driving distractions. As of September 2016, 14 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories have banned the use of handheld cellphones by those who are behind the wheel, and 46 states as well as the District of Columbia have outlawed text messaging while driving.