October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the NSC (National Safety Council), “on a typical day, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes.” To reduce the risk of being in a distracted driver incident, it is important to understand what constitutes distracted driving and what steps you can take to prevent it.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any number of actions that result in switching your focus from driving to a secondary background task such as talking on the phone, programming the navigation system, eating your lunch, or trying to keep the dog from jumping in the front seat.

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Distractions come in several different forms:

  • Cognitive distractions that involve a mental focus on something other than driving.
  • Manual distractions that require taking your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Visual distractions requiring you to take your eyes off the road.
  • Visual/manual distraction not only requires taking your eyes off the road but removing your hands from the steering wheel as well.

Steps to Avoid Distracted Driving

  1. Make your vehicle a phone-free zone. Turn off your cell phone. Put it on “Do Not Disturb” and toss it in the glove compartment. Avoid using a hands-free device unless it is an emergency. Although less of a risk, hands-free devices still require a mental shift from your primary focus of driving.

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  1. Do not multi-task. Multi-tasking is a myth. You are switching focus from your primary task of driving to something else. You cannot do both equally well. Avoid eating in your car, performing last-minute grooming tasks, or changing your playlist.
  2. Program your trip before you leave. Attempting to put an address into the navigation system while driving is a cognitive, visual, and sometimes a manual distraction.
  3. Ensure that your pets and children are properly restrained in the area where they are safest and present the least amount of distraction.
  4. Help new drivers avoid distractions. It is important to model safe driving practices such as phone-free zones and create boundaries for new drivers until they master important driving skills. Limiting the number of passengers can help limit distractions as they gain driving experience.
  5. Let it go. If something falls while you’re driving, wait until you are stopped to retrieve it.

Taking these steps can help limit your risk of being involved in a distracted driver incident, but they cannot help you completely avoid other drivers who may be driving while distracted.

If you’ve been injured in an accident and would like to discuss your situation with an experienced Michigan and Ohio personal injury attorney, contact us at 419-843-6663 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.