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Do you take your eyes off the road to pick up your phone, fix your mascara, or eat a hamburger? You’re not alone and the statistics are scary. Taking your eyes off the road “just to check a text message,” for 5 seconds traveling at 55 mph is like crossing a football field blindfolded. Okay, so maybe this imaginary football field is empty, but when you’re driving, that football field is filled with other cars, pedestrians or any number of obstacles.

In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and about 421,000 were injured.

According to the website, using a headset instead of holding on to your phone is actually not much safer. It’s better to not use your phone in any capacity while driving.

So what constitutes distracted driving? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are three types of distraction:

• Cognitive
• Manual
• Visual

Besides a few examples noted above, here are some more examples of what constitutes distracted driving (some you might not consider to be a big distraction):

• Using your cell phone in any way
• Changing the radio station or switching out a CD
• Putting on makeup, combing your hair, shaving
• Eating and drinking
• Using a GPS
• Maps
• Talking to people in your car
• Watching a video
• Daydreaming
• Keeping your children from fighting

All of these and more can lead to a distracted driving accident. Obviously some of these seem unavoidable, but there are ways you can keep yourself and others from driving distracted.

How to Stay Safe

For some people it might not be as easy as not touching your phone while driving. Here are some tips to keep you and others from driving distracted:

• Keep your phone in the back seat.
• Leave yourself extra time in the morning to get ready so you don’t put on makeup or shave in the car.
• Encourage your teenagers to leave their phones in the backseat, or have someone else in the car respond to a text or answer a call while they are driving.
• Keep the radio at a lower volume so you can still hear sounds on the road such as honking horns and police sirens. Avoid changing channels or ask a passenger to do it for you.
• Keep both hands on the wheel. That way you won’t have a free hand to fidget or reach for items.
• Eat at home, or bring an ice pack to keep your food safe until you arrive at your destination.
• Ask that others who are in the car with you keep their voices down and not yell.

Distracted driving can lead to serious injuries or even death. Set a good example for others and don’t drive distracted.

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