In the era of “smart” devices, we’re getting less smart about our driving. Doesn’t seem plausible? Consider the nearly 3,200 lives claimed from distracted driving in 2017 alone. You’ve probably heard public service announcements warning against distracted driving, but do you know what causes it and how to prevent it? A few minutes and a concerted effort could transform the roads we share on each day.

Types of Distracted Driving

Texting and driving is perhaps the most obvious example.  But there are actually three classifications. Outside of visual disruptions like texting, drivers also encounter cognitive and manual distractions.

Cognitive

Have you ever been talking with a friend while driving and missed a turn you’ve made over 100 times? Anything from casual conversation to intrusive thoughts can stand between your focus and the road.

Manual

Eating, drinking or smoking while driving are manual distractions. As a rule of thumb, any time your hand(s) leave the steering wheel, you’re distracted. Play it safe when you’re driving and keep your hands at 10 and 2 (or 9 and 3) on the steering wheel.

Vulnerable Drivers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified drivers under the age of 20 as the most at risk for causing distraction-related driving fatalities. This same demographic is also likely to engage in other risky behaviors, such as driving without a seat belt, and drinking and driving. As such, these drivers may benefit from extra education and resources for safer driving.

Prevention

Do your part to make our roads safe by following these tips.

  1. Abide By the Law

Distracted driving has the attention of state and federal legislators. For instance, many states banned some or all the following while driving: texting and the use of a hand-held phone or electronic device. Does Missouri have any bans in place?

In 2013, Missouri law banned drivers under the age of 21 from text messaging and using all other hand-held mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle. The law does not apply to drivers over the age of 21.

  1. Remove the Temptation

As we have access to more technology, there are many ways to automate safer driving. From Do Not Disturb phone settings to apps that restrict phone usage altogether, safer driving is just a click away. Many car manufacturers have also joined the cause. For example, some vehicles won’t allow you to connect a Bluetooth device once the car is in motion.

  1. Value Human Life

Many of us get behind the wheel without considering how our driving habits impact others. Before you fire up the ignition, reflect on your responsibility to protect human life. This heightened awareness will make you a safer driver.