According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,474 people were killed in 2009 in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured. Looking at the big picture, that means 16 percent of all fatal crashes and 20 percent of all accidents across the country in 2009 involved distracted drivers.
Here are 10 tips from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) for managing some of the most common distractions while driving:
- Turn It Off - Either turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car.
- Spread The Word - Set up a special message that tells callers you’re driving and will respond as soon as you can. You can enable some phones to do this automatically when you get in the car.
- Pull Over - If you need to make a call, pull over and stop in a safe area first.
- Deputize Your Passangers - Ask your passengers t answer or make calls for you. Conversely, if you are a passenger, offer to answer the driver’s phone.
- X the Text - Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web, or check email. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
- Know the Law - Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you start driving. Some prohibit the use of handheld cell phones in addition to texting. The GHSA offers this useful chart.
- Prepare - Review maps and direction before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger or pull over to review your directions again.
- Secure Your Pets - Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
- Keep the Kids Safe - Pull over if you need to address situations with your children in the car.
- Focus on the Task at Hand - Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, reading, and any other activity that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off your driving.