5 ways you can reduce distractions while driving

National Distracted Driving month reminds us to drive safely

Published: April 05, 2014 09:00 AM

April is National Distracted Driving month, providing a reminder of the dangers of using phones and doing other non-driving tasks behind the wheel.

In 2012, more than 3,300 people were killed and 421,000 were estimated to have been injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Shocking as that is, the numbers are probably far greater due to the inconsistencies in reporting. No matter the actual figures, we all know it is a problem that has affected many and we see phone-using drivers swerving in their lane, or holding up traffic, every day.

Forty-three states have passed legislation banning texting while driving and 12 states ban talking on a hand-held cell phone, but even with those laws, drivers are still distracted.

To help prevent a needless tragedy, here are steps every driver should take to ensure that they are safe and not contributing to the distracted-driving problem.

Silence the phone. It’s very tempting to respond to the text alerts, calls, and other notifications that sound off while you’re driving, so reduce the urge by putting the phone on silent. If your car has Bluetooth, make sure it’s set up, but keep phone calls on the road limited to emergencies.

Map it out. Make sure you program the GPS before head to your destination. Use the voice function, so you don’t need to look at the portable device or smart phone to know which direction to go.

Groom at home. Give yourself plenty of time in the morning to get ready, so you don’t have to apply makeup or shave in the driver’s seat. Your eyes should be looking at the rearview mirror at the other cars, not at yourself.

Familiarize yourself with the car’s controls. New cars often have sophisticated, or overly clever, controls that require some getting use to while driving. (We’re talking to you Cadillac Cue and MyFord Touch.) With any infotainment system with touch screens, make sure you know how to use it or better yet, take some time to set up the radio stations or streaming music, climate, and other controls before you head out.

Skip the drive through. Resist the temptation to eat or drink (especially open hot coffee) in the car. Not only could you spill something or burn yourself, but you won’t save much time if you are working to hold a burger, soda, and trying to steer all at the same time. Pull over, eat at home before, or tell your stomach to wait until you get to your destination.

From April 7th through 15th, there will be a nationwide crack down on distracted driving called "U Drive. U Text. U Pay".  Police will be out in force in the states that have laws ticketing motorists who text behind the wheel.  

—Liza Barth

Distracted driving

See our special section to learn more about the dangers of using phones and doing other non-driving tasks behind the wheel.

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