3 Safety Tips to Combat Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) most recent available data, nearly 3,500 people were killed in 2016, and close to 400,000 were injured in 2015 due to distracted driving. While distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving, cell phone use, particularly texting, is identified as one of the most alarming distractions. “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds,” says the NHTSA. “At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Most states have laws banning hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving (see this list to find yours). However, cell phones are commonly used in cars for listening to music, navigation and GPS, and it’s important to find a safe way to access these features without being distracted by text messages, emails, phone calls and notifications. Here are some ways to combat distracted driving while you’re behind the wheel.

Use hands-free features only when necessary

Using a headset or dashboard system is safer than holding a phone to your ear, but hands-free talking can still be dangerous.

According to the National Safety Council, the brain’s ability to process moving images decreases by up to a third while talking on the phone. However, if you must use a hands-free device, speakerphone, a headset or your car’s Bluetooth controls are your best options. Consider a car with built-in Bluetooth and the capability to operate your phone through the infotainment system. These systems offer controls on the steering wheel, so you can keep your hands on the wheel.

Many phones now have hands-free features built in, mainly through voice assistants such as Siri and Google, that can respond to voice commands, place a call or read a text message without you having to touch the phone. But it’s best to avoid composing messages with your virtual assistant — the National Safety Council’s study shows that voice to text is more distracting than typing by hand.

Don’t touch your phone

The easiest way to keep your eyes on the road is to avoid using your phone completely. If you are using your phone for navigation or to listen to music or the radio, secure it in a dashboard mount (or out of sight if you can rely on just audio for directions), and set your music or navigation before you drive.

Silence all notifications

Even the best of intentions can be foiled by the sound of a notification alert. Turn your notifications off when you get in the car.

All iPhones with iOS 11 and higher can automatically put your phone into “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode, keeping the phone silent and the screen dark while you are on the road. If navigation is active, turn-by-turn instructions will show on the lock screen and audio can be routed through the car’s Bluetooth speakers (if available).

Anyone who calls or sends a text message will get an automated reply saying you’re driving (you can customize this message). If the message is important, the sender can type “urgent” to push a notification through. If this happens, pull over to read the message or ask Siri to read it so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Android phones offer similar capabilities. The “Do Not Disturb” feature can automatically turn on by using motion detection and network connections. Do Not Disturb can also be programmed to start when your phone connects to the hands-free system in your car, or it can be turned on manually.

Cell phones offer many great features when driving, but it’s important to remember how distracting texting, talking and emailing can be when you’re behind the wheel. Take these steps to stay focused and safe when on the road.
Jennifer Pattison Tuohy is a freelance writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She writes about mobile phone technology, consumer tech, small businesses and green living for a variety of newspapers, magazines and online publications.

48 comments

Barbara S
Barbara S2 months ago

Thanks very much

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Daniel N
Past Member 2 months ago

thank you for sharing

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Peggy B
Peggy B2 months ago

TYFS

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

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Kathy K
Kathy K3 months ago

Good ideas.

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David C
David C3 months ago

good ideas, start early and practice often

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David C
David C3 months ago

thanks

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Frances G
Frances G3 months ago

Thanks

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Ingrid A
Past Member 3 months ago

thanks

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Mike R
Mike R3 months ago

Thanks

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