We get it; you’re busy. Yourto-do list at work is bleeding into your day, the laundry is piling up, bills are flying at your from every direction, so you’re just trying to multitask and get things done. And driving is a total time suck. So when you’re behind the wheel it makes perfect sense to be chowing down on a drive-thru meal, flirting with your partner, or texting your coworkers while speeding to your next stop. But distracted driving isn’t the brilliant time-maximizer you might think, it’s actually the fastest way to ensure you never reach your final destination. By trying to be more efficient, you’re actually a danger to yourself and putting lives at risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 9 people are killed and 1060 people are injured in car accidents involving a distracted drivers every single day. As more people try to turn their car into their personal office, kitchen, and entertainment center, that number is sure to increase.
But with so many temptations to keep your mind off the road, how can you possibly be expected to avoid all distractions? If you find distracting driving a tough habit to break, try these four tricks that will keep you safe every time you drive.
1) Silence Your Phone And Put It In The Glove Box
The “out of sight, out of mind” trick is an old one, but it works. Take your phone out of your pocket, silence it, and put it in your glove box or center console first thing when you hop in your car. Your phone will be nice and quiet and slightly less accessible, so you won’t be taking calls, looking up the weather, stalking Facebook, or checking sports scores while you’re supposed to have your eyes on the road.
It’s a hard habit to break but DON’T immediately reach for your phone the second you hear it vibrate. Your mom can wait to tell you about her holiday plans until you reach a full and complete stop.
2) Eat Only While Stationary
No one’s saying you aren’t allowed to eat in your vehicle. (And let’s be honest, the smell of greasy french fries is way better than any scent you can get from any car air freshener.) But you should establish a personal rule that says you are only allowed to have a to-go meal while you’re parked.
If you’re on the road and your stomach starts rumbling, grab a hot lunch from a nearby drive thru, devour it in the parking lot, then continue to your destination. You get all of the convenience of fast food, with none of the life-threatening danger of driving while eating.
3) Keep The Kids Occupied
Trying to dish out discipline to your kids from the driver’s seat? Providing parental guidance to your little ones while simultaneously keeping your mind on the task of operating a vehicle is nearly impossible to do safely.
Prevent your kids from being too much to handle by giving them books, toys, games, or videos to distract them during trips. That usually keeps them silent and occupied enough to allow you to focus your attention on the task at hand. If you feel the need to give them a stern talking-to about their behavior, pull over before delivering the lecture.
4) Let Your Passenger Play DJ
There’s nothing wrong with listening to some hot grooves in your car, so long as you aren’t fiddling with knobs every three seconds to find just the right tune for your trip. Looking down at your music console, even for just a second or two, can distract you enough to result in an easily-avoidable accident.
If you have a buddy in the passenger seat, let them handle the music. You can even dictate to them what you want to listen to, and they can do the dirty work of actually finding the song on your iPod. Telling your co-pilot to be your personal DJ keeps your hands and eyes free to keep everyone in the car safe.
Your Safety Is Worth The Effort
These extra little measures take barely more thought, effort, and time. The difference between being a fully-engaged driver and a distracted driver is life and death, so invest in being the best driver you can be.
Logan Strain is a San Diego blogger who keeps his eyes straight ahead whenever he hits the road.