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Safe Steps to Avoid Distracted Driving

Monday, December 18, 2017 7:06 AM

According to the U.S. Government, 3,477 were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2015 alone. Texting and driving is not the only thing that distracts drivers. Others include: drowsy driving, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, adjusting of the radio/climate/navigation systems, watching a video, reading (including maps), grooming or dealing with pets in the vehicle.


There are a lot of ways people can avoid distracted driving, and greatly reduce the chance of them getting into a car accident. Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Department at NorthShore, shares tips on how you can avoid distracted driving:

Put down the phone!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16-to- 19-year-olds comprise the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of crashes. And 38% of drivers in their 20s who were involved in fatal crashes were using cell phones at the time.

Put the phone away once you start the engine. Having it out could cause too much temptation to look at to answer a call or respond to a text. Cell phones should only be used as an emergency and you should pull over to place a call. Hands-free calling is always an alternative, but could still cause a distraction as it will pull some of your focus off the road.

Do all of your adjusting before taking off.
Make sure your seat belt is tightened, your seat is comfortable and your mirrors are adjusted. Don’t try to do these things after you already left. If you like to listen to music, set the radio or playlist beforehand so you’re not skimming through songs later. And if it’s a hot one out there, set the air conditioner to a desired temperature right away so you’re not fiddling around while driving.

Avoid eating and drinking.
If you’re always on the go, try to leave a little bit more time in the morning to finish your breakfast, or take your lunch with you where you’re going, and don’t eat in the car. Spills are a major distraction that can lead to a car accident. Drinking that hot coffee in the morning and risking a spilled disaster in your lap is not worth it. Take your coffee to work with you.

If you feel drowsy, pull over!
Driving while feeling drowsy can increase the risk of a crash by four times. People try to race home when they’re feeling tired and this could put themselves and others at risk. Find a safe place to park for a nap. Try to make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night knowing that you’ll be behind the wheel later on. Don’t try to drive through the night when going far distances. Get a hotel if you’re out of state or pull over. It’s not worth the risk.

What are some of the ways you practice safe driving?