In 2012, an estimated 421,000 people were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here are some of the top distractions that could potentially cause problems for drivers — whether they are first-timers or experienced behind the wheel.
Texting is one of the most dangerous things a new driver can do. It takes their eyes off the road and slows their reaction time, which could potentially lead to an accident. Instead of answering a text message while on the road, drivers should wait until they are safely parked, or — if it’s so urgent they can’t wait — pull over somewhere safe to respond.
Talking on the phone while driving can be dangerous, too. Unlike texting, a phone conversation may not take a driver’s eyes off the road, but studies have shown it can still decrease driver performance. In some states, talking on a handheld phone while driving is also illegal. So, can’t that phone call wait until you’re parked?
Fast-food drive-throughs are convenient — but that doesn’t mean you could nosh on that burrito or burger while trying to operate your car. Even if you’re pressed for time, parking for a few minutes to eat your lunch or waiting until you reach your destination is worth it — especially if it means avoiding an accident.
A few years ago, browsing the web wasn’t an issue for drivers, but smartphones have given rise to temptation. No matter how desperately you want to know how many “likes” that picture got on Facebook or how your fantasy football team is doing, it’s not worth taking your eyes off the road. If it is, then it may be a good idea to just pull over.
Your car is full of mirrors — but most of them aren’t there for you to check your mascara. We’ve all seen people brushing their hair or applying lipstick in the car, and when they do, they are almost never looking at the road. In addition to being unsafe, just how straight can you really get that eyeliner when you’re steering a moving car?
Cruising down the highway, listening to jams — it’s one of the best things about driving. But, flipping the stations — and looking at the radio dial instead of the street ahead — can seriously take you out of your driving groove. Ask your passenger to be the DJ, or wait until you’re waiting at a stoplight or safely parked to station surf.
Navigation systems make finding your way around much easier, telling you each turn to take to get to your destination. Most of them have warnings about trying to operate them while driving — and it’s for a good reason. If you need to adjust your GPS mid-trip, don’t try to push the buttons while you’re still moving. Pull over, use your GPS and then start rolling again.
It’s nice to have friends or family with you in the car. But, it’s not so nice to try to listen to your best friend’s breakup story or argue with your mom while you’re behind the wheel. Some states have passenger restrictions for young drivers, but even if you’re more experienced, it may be a good idea to save those intense conversations for a stationary location.
If you just got into an argument with someone, it may be a good idea to cool off before you hit the road. Don’t vent your frustrations on the gas pedal — driving too fast probably won’t solve your problems, and reliving your argument can distract you from the task at hand.
OK, we all unleash our inner Christina Aguilera from time to time. But, don’t get too carried away and forget that you’re in your car — not becoming the next American Idol. While you may think it’s cool to crank up the music, you need to hear what’s going on around you — and everyone else doesn’t need to hear your bass from miles away.
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