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Steering Clear of D.D.H.

It’s an epidemic, and you may be one of the thousands of Americans who have Distracted Driving Habits.


 

Overall, an estimated 421,000 people were injured in vehicle crashes involving a distracted motorist in 2012, according to Distraction.gov. Teens are particularly vulnerable, as 21% of drivers from age 15 to 19 involved in fatal crashes were distracted by the use of cell phones.


“Distraction” covers all types of behaviors—from talking on the phone, to eating, drinking, watching a video, putting on makeup or searching for items in a car or the ever growing trend of taking selfies. Even changing radio stations or using a GPS system can distract you from driving long enough to cause an accident. 

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Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. At 55 miles per hour, your car can cover the length of a football field in five seconds. Being distracted that one time when a car comes out of nowhere or a child runs between two cars, can mean the difference between life and death. You may think, “I can’t stop doing this.” But, you can. And it’s easier than you think.


Make it “disappear” No, this doesn’t mean chuck your device entirely. However, if the device is out of reach, you won’t be physically able to respond to it, states StopTextsStopWrecks.org. Try placing your phone in the back seat or somewhere else beyond easy access, the site suggests.


Go “silent” Turn the silencer on as soon as you get into the car. If you think about it, we have been trained from birth to answer the phone when it rings. By putting your phone on silent, you remove this temptation.


Choose a “designated texter” If you have a passenger, hand off the device to him or her so you can still respond without using your hands, StopTextsStopWrecks.org advises.


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Get an “app for that” Apple is working on technology to cut off texting and other cell phone features while you’re driving, but until then, you can find several mobile apps that try to address the problem of distracted driving. For example, DriveSafe.ly reads your texts and emails to you while you’re driving, and AT&T’s DriveMode will send an auto-response to any text you receive when you’re behind the wheel. While the apps aren’t perfect, it’s a start in the right direction.


There’s a simple reason to stop texting while driving once and for all: It’s the right thing for responsible citizens to do. Children learn from their parent’s behavior. Be an example for your children and if you need to text or talk on the phone, pull over to a safe place.