list of driver distractions that contributes to crashes and
injuries is long. But here’s the bottom line:
Driving is a serious responsibility; it demands and deserves
your full, undivided attention. What is a distraction? It’s
anything that takes your hands, eyes or attention away from
driving. It could be a billboard, passengers in your car,
something going on outside your car or even something as simple
as trying to set the speed of your windshield wipers. Of course,
you have to occasionally glance at your speedometer, fuel
and other gauges. But actions like changing the radio station,
dialing a cell phone, reading a map or using a navigation
system while you’re driving can lead to big trouble.
In fact, one recent study showed that driver distractions
are a contributing factor in more than 4,300 crashes a day.
Among the most common driving distractions are:
the radio, cassette or CD player
occupants in the vehicle
objects in the vehicle
a wireless Cell phone
and drinking while driving
the vehicle’s temperature controls
Vehicles stopped by police
Friends in other vehicles
New construction (shops, restaurants, etc.)
Our goal is to help you recognize driver distractions and
give you tips on how you can avoid falling victim to them.
CELL PHONES = DANGER
Can’t imagine life without your cell phone? They’re
an important part of everyday life, but using a wireless phone
while driving increases your chance of getting into an accident
When you’re searching for a number, dialing or talking,
you’re not watching the road like you should. “Hands-free”
phone features help, but they can’t prevent you from
becoming involved in a conversation and losing concentration.
A survey of 837 drivers with cell phones found that almost
half swerved or drifted into another lane, 23% had tailgated,
21% cut someone off and 18% nearly hit another vehicle while
using the phone.
So what can you do? How can you be a safe driver if you absolutely
have to use your phone while traveling? Wireless phone manufacturers
suggest a number of good options:
off the road and stop in a safe place before using your
the phone rings, let it ring! It’s better to use your
phone’s voicemail or even miss a call than to put
yourself, your passengers or others at risk.
very familiar with your phone before using it on the road.
take notes or jot down numbers while driving.
Remember: driving safely is always more important than using
EAT WHILE YOU DRIVE????
From breakfast burritos to burgers and fries, eating on the
run has turned into an everyday part of our lives. Who hasn’t
done it? French fries on your lap, a drink in one hand and
a sandwich in the other while your knees do the steering.
Eating while driving is not only dangerous, it’s messy,
and fumbling with napkins, condiments, wrappers and beverages
means you’re not watching the road.
Here are a few ways you can concentrate more on the road
than on your burger:
a little early. Allow your-self time to stop for a bite
you’re traveling with someone, take turns driving
GADGETS = DISTRACTION
Radio station buttons, CD and cassette controls, volume,
balance and fade, A/C and heat knobs, fan speed, cruise control…
Those are just some of the knobs, switches, buttons and controls
you can adjust, switch on or off and turn up and down while
driving, and they all help make travel more comfortable and
You may think all the adjusting and changing is routine –
after all, you’ve been doing it since you got your license.
But inserting a CD or searching for a radio station makes
you six times more likely to get into an accident than glancing
at the fuel gauge or speedometer.
Don’t Let Technology Take a Toll
Think about it; let’s say you’re going 60 miles
If you look down for just two seconds to choose a CD or adjust
the climate controls, you’ll have traveled 176 feet
blindly. That’s more than half the length of a football
field. Try these tips to help keep your attention on the road:
your passenger to adjust the radio or climate controls for
advantage of normal stops to adjust controls.
more complex devices – GPS/navigation systems, etc.
– take the time to stop in a safe place before giving
them your attention.
CHILDREN, PETS, PASSENGERS = LOST CONCENTRATION
It’s hard enough concentrating on the road without
the distraction of children, pets and passengers, and adding
in just one of those factors can make driving dangerous. But
there are ways you can avoid driving distractions within your
sure children are properly and safely buckled up, and give
them books, games or other items to occupy their time.
a pet carrier or portable kennel to limit a pet’s
ability to roam.
Avoid arguments and minimize distracting conversations while
ON THE ROAD = PAY ATTENTION
It’s just human nature – the urge to “get
a good look” at the scene of an accident or at cars
that have been stopped by police can be almost overwhelming.
And who can resist a long look at what they’re putting
in at the new shopping center? The best advice: Don’t
do it! Those things are never more important than staying
focused on driving.
Remember, letting your concentration be diverted by these
common driving distractions can be deadly:
activities such as accidents or vehicles stopped by police
in other vehicles
YOU DO WHAT WHEN YOU'RE DRIVING?
As you know there are all kinds of other distractions that
take your attention away from driving. How many times have
you seen people
Putting on make-up,
maps or directions, a newspaper or even a book?
up,putting out cigarettes or dealing with falling ashes
while driving can be deadly.
The safe solution is simple – never do any of these
things while you're driving.
How To Keep Your Concentration
you always prepared to avoid a car swerving in front of
about braking for a pedestrian who suddenly steps into your
Can you steer safely clear of debris falling from a truck?
Stay focused. Pay attention. Expect the unexpected. And follow
these simple tips to help you – and others – stay
be sure you and your passengers are properly buckled up.
plenty of sleep; never drive while drowsy.
sufficient time to reach your destination.
REMIND YOUR TEENAGERS
Car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers in America
– more than 5,000 teens die each year. Inexperience,
risk-taking and driver distractions are some reasons why.
Loud music, changing discs and tapes as well as tuning the
radio are also potentially deadly distractions when behind
the wheel. And when a teen driver has friends in the car,
the risk is even higher – the more passengers, the greater
the chance of a serious crash. Here are other common teen
driver distractions that can be deadly:
in other vehicles. Don’t let saying “hi”
or other fun and games take your attention off the road.
Never try to pass items from one moving vehicle to another.
Hearing what’s going on around you is just as important
as seeing. In most states it’s illegal to wear headphones
“show-off ” factor. It may be tempting to go
faster, turn sharper or beat another car through an intersection.
But don’t do it. Keep focused on staying safe and
This was written with assistance from the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the AAA Foundation
for Traffic Safety, the Federal Highway Administration and
the National Safety Council. Because every situation is different,
the individual driver must decide what to do in each particular
scenario. For further information, visit websites at www.nhtsa.dot.gov,