On average, 170 people will die in a distracted driving related accident in Massachusetts every year, according to the NHTSA. From tending to a child in the backseat to sending a text, eating a sandwich, or checking your lipstick, there are countless ways to be distracted — even for 1 second — when you’re behind the wheel.
The Insurance Information Institute claims driving while interacting with a mobile device can increase the odds of a crash by as much as 3.5 times, compared to the risks that a sober, alert and attentive driver faces. Teens in particular are more susceptible to collisions, even when speaking hands-free on a mobile phone. Let’s explore the many ways you can help prevent distracted driving accidents.
Even implementing one of the following tips can help reduce your risk, but we recommended practicing them all to keep you, your passengers, and others safe on the road.
- Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode before you get in the car. If you’ll be tempted, put the phone somewhere out of reach while you’re in motion. If you’ll be on the road for an extended period of time, let friends, family and colleagues know so they don’t contact you during that time.
- Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Most phones have this capability now.
- Pull over. If you need to make a call or adjust your GPS, pull over to a safe area first.
- Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to communicate for you.
- Don’t read. You should NEVER text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
- Prepare. Start your GPS or review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the map and/or directions.
- 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 to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
- Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
- If you need to eat on the road, pull over into a parking lot until you’re done.