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Reduce Distractions, Reduce Car Accidents

Most experts agree that distractions in the car are a major contributor to car accidents that result in fatalities and serious personal injuries. Many of us try to multitask in the car, but these distractions can cost you a great deal:

1) Difficult directions. If you are driving somewhere unfamiliar, you may need directions or a map, but be aware that these directions may distract you from the road. Always print off directions or maps in a large font and post them in your car where you can easily see them. If you need to read details on a map, pull over. When posting your directions in your car, make sure that the paper does not cover any important items on the dashboard or get in the way of the gear shift.

2) Phones. Cell phones are a major problem in cars. They distract you from the road and slow your response times. If you must use a phone, at least use a hands-free headset so that both your hands can remain on the wheel. Better yet, pull over to talk.

3) Planning. If you’re trying to make plans about where to eat, what to do, or how to complete your errands, you may not be responding as quickly as you need to. Plan your day ahead of time and use the time in your car to focus on your car and the road.

4) Eating, drinking, and smoking. All these activities take some focus and require the use of at least one of your hands. You could easily be in a car accident while trying to fumble with a candy bar wrapper or while trying to put out a cigarette. Wait until you pull over.

5) Loose objects. If you are in an accident, loose objects – even relatively small ones – can become projectiles and can cause serious and even fatal head injuries. Small objects can also get loose and roll under your gas or break pedals, affecting how you drive. Loose objects can also cause distracting noise as you drive if they roll about in your car. Keep everything securely in your trunk.

6) Loud music. You need to be able to hear what is going on around you. Other drivers beeping, sirens blaring and others shouting can all be essential clues.

7) Other people. Other people talking, asking you questions or trying to tickle you take your focus away from driving. If you have passengers, make sure that they stay in their seats and avoid distracting you.

8) Emotions. If you are angry or upset, you’re more likely to be thinking about what caused your upset rather than on your driving. Strong emotions can also cause you to mistakes or make reckless decisions. Drive only when calm.