By Patricia Conte for GalTime.com
Driving Safely From shaving to singing to talking on the phone, if you're on the roads, you've probably seen people do all these things and more in the car, none of which are good ideas.
Follow these tips to help ensure you're safe on the roads and you don't become a distracted driver.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Department of Transportation is working with the traffic safety community across the country to help educate people about the dangers of distracted driving. We're all guilty of some sort of distracted driving, but we should commit to eliminate distractions as much as we're able.
Keep the following suggestions in mind to help keep you safe on the road:
Make a plan
Like the rest of us, you probably like to make efficient use of your time. That's a good thing, but don't use your time in the car to make phone calls, eat your breakfast or map out your directions. Your commute might seem like a good time to "take care of business," but it really isn't.
Plan ahead before you buckle in. Save time for breakfast (or lunch) at home. It only takes a few minutes to eat a bowl of cereal or a PB and J sandwich.
It should go without saying, but don't even attempt to text and drive. If you have an urgent matter that needs your attention, pull off the road to a safe spot and make your phone call or send your text.
Your smartphone might have all sorts of tools, including GPS systems, but don't be a dummy -- map out your directions before you sit behind the steering wheel to familiarize yourself with where you're going. If needed, get directions in advance.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), "Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction simultaneously. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded."
If you have passengers in the car, limit your interaction with them while you're driving.
Make sure your kids have a few toys or books within their reach before you set off.
Keep your stereo to a minimum - high volumes can prevent you from hearing things like sirens.
Don't drive if you're tired
Road trips can be fun, but not when you're struggling to stay awake and it's your turn at the wheel. Same goes for the drive home from a friend's house. If you're too tired, your friend probably won't mind an overnight guest.
Schedule your road trips so you're sharing the driving duties with your traveling companions.
Be sure to get an adequate amount of rest before you set off on an extended trip.
Don't daydream. You might be thinking about your destination, but you've got to stay focused on the road and traffic for the "right now."
If you're too tired to drive home from a friend's house late at night, ask to stay over.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that, based on NHTSA estimates, 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
No matter how secondhand driving seems, it's not the time to focus your attention on anything but the road.
For more information including statistics and how to get more involved in distraction-free driving, visit Distraction.gov, the Official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving.
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