It’s no secret distracted driving is a terrifying phenomenon. The CDC reports, on average, eight people are killed every day due to crashes involving a distracted driver. And as if there weren’t enough things vying for a driver’s attention — passenger safety and finding that prime radio station — smartphones have introduced almost limitless temptations to turn your focus away from the road.
With all this in mind, what are some of the worst tasks you can be doing with your smartphone while driving? And how can they be avoided? Read on for answers to this and gain tips on how to be a more responsible driver so you can enjoy safety on the road — for yourself and others.
This won’t come as a shock, but texting is one of the most dangerous things you can do while behind the wheel. It turns out 25 percent of all car accidents in the U.S. are caused by texting while driving. That’s an enormous figure. Furthermore, reading a text message (and typing back a response) takes several moments and causes your complete attention to be directed away from the road in front of you.
If you find yourself frequently texting while driving, limit your ability to do so before you ever turn your car on. Put your phone on silent and place it somewhere out of reach. You can stick it somewhere where it would be accessible in the case of an emergency, but still far enough away that you’d have to stop the car and unbuckle your seat belt to reach it. This way, you won’t be tempted to glance at your phone if you hear a text notification, and you physically will not be able to get to the phone until you’re in a safe spot.
While we know texting is dangerous, checking email is definitely worse. Many of us are busy professionals and have bosses or clients who expect us to be on call throughout the day. Thus, we justify checking our email while driving because we have committed to being constantly available to our employers or clients. But think for a moment how much less available you’ll be to those individuals if you end up in a serious car crash; it’s just not worth it.
To avoid the compulsion to check email while driving, try the same strategies outlined above with regard to texting. In addition, consider setting an “out of office” auto-responder each time you get in the car. This way, anyone seeking you out with an urgent matter can quickly see you’re unavailable and will know when you’ll be able to be reached again.
Looking at Your GPS
This last habit is one that many logical people feel justified about: periodically checking your GPS while on the road. You need to know where you’re going, don’t you? Well, yes, you do. But did you know you’re four-times as likely to get in an accident when reading behind the wheel?
If you rely on GPS for directions, turn on the voice setting to have the directions read aloud to you and turn off the dashboard. Another idea is to review your driving directions before leaving home so you know what to expect while driving and don’t need to avert your eyes from the road. All it takes is one second to make a grave mistake.
Not only is distracted driving a potentially lethal activity, but it also is becoming more and more heavily regulated. Be sure to familiarize yourself with distracted-driving laws and safe practices in your home state. If everyone shifted their attention back to the road and away from their smartphones, our roads would be astronomically safer — and that starts with you.
Author Information: Rebecca Hasulak is a prolific writer and dangerous dreamer. She sharpened her skill with the written word while she was an Associate Editor of a beauty and pop culture magazine, and further during her time as a Public Relations Executive. Rebecca now writes and delivers PR services under her business Quotable PR, and is happiest when with her daughter and loved ones. Follow her @BecksChristine.