It’s harmless to sip your coffee on the way to work, right? Maybe not so much.
Some of the things you do regularly behind the wheel have become so commonplace you might not realize you’re driving distracted. But if your eyes, hands or mind are focused on anything but driving, you fit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s definition of a distracted driver. Distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accidents, with the number of fatalities increasing.
Consider these five thoughtless distracted driving habits and how to change them:
1. Eating or Drinking
Hot coffee spills, greasy hands and stray crumbs could distract you from the road. Eat before you get behind the wheel or after you’ve reached your destination. If you need a snack now, find some place off the road to stop.
2. Making Hands-Free Calls
You may not take your hands off the wheel, but calls can take your mind off the road. Turn off your phone’s Bluetooth capabilities before you drive off, and silence your phone to help prevent temptation. If you really need to make a call, safely pull over to talk.
3. Messing with Dials or Controls
Adjusting volume, looking for a radio station, plugging in GPS directions and turning up the heat diverts your eyes from the road. Take care of all of the above before shifting into gear. If you must make adjustments, wait until you come to a complete stop at a light, pull over safely or ask your front-seat passenger to handle them.
4. Paying Attention to Other Passengers
Young children and infants can be up to eight times more distracting than adult passengers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Make sure your little ones have something to occupy them. Or stop the car and pull over safely before investigating the cause of screaming or crying.
5. Applying Makeup or Shaving
The vanity mirror blocks your eyes from the road. Give yourself enough time before leaving home to finish getting ready.