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How to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents

Sending a text, eating your burrito, applying makeup — what do all of these have in common?

They’re all forms of driving while distracted. And according to the latest distracted driving statistics, it’s a problem that isn’t going away.

The Insurance Information Institute claims driving while interacting with a mobile device can increase the odds of a crash by as much as 3.5 times, compared to the risks that a sober, alert and attentive driver faces. Teens in particular are more susceptible to collisions, even when speaking hands-free on a mobile phone. Let’s explore the many ways you can help prevent distracted driving accidents.

Table of Contents:

Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

So, What Is Distracted Driving?

Types of Distracted Driving

Is it Illegal to Use Your Phone While Driving?

How Does Distracted Driving Affect Insurance?

Protect Yourself From Distracted Drivers on the Road

Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that by eliminating distractions, and giving your full attention to driving, you’ll have quicker reflexes for unexpected events that could otherwise cause accidents. Try enacting these simple changes to drive smarter and safer:

Reserve your phone for emergency use

Keep your phone easily accessible — but do your best to limit its use. If something comes up, pull off the road when it’s safe to do so, and use the phone only when absolutely necessary. Even hands-free use can limit your reaction time.

Limit the number of passengers in your car

Many states have laws on the books that only allow a few passengers in the car when new drivers are behind the wheel. Driving with friends can create distractions which can lead to accidents.

Practice defensive driving

One great way to take on new and smarter driving habits is to review defensive driving techniques to focus on the road. Reach out to your agent to learn about our car insurance discounts for safe and defensive drivers.

Avoid eating when driving

Grabbing lunch on the go might seem efficient, but it’s not smart to eat meals when driving. Unexpected spills can upset your driving rhythm and pull attention away from driving.

Don’t check social media when driving

If you’re behind the wheel, just put the phone away. Social media can wait. It’s not going anywhere — that we can promise. Are the notifications too tempting? Turn them off! No comment or new tweet is worth the risk.

Limit the level of activity in the cab

Although it can be fun to goof with your friends while you’re out having fun, new drivers may find themselves deeply engaged in conversation — and a little too checked out behind the wheel. And be sure to store loose gear out of the way where it’s easily accessible.

Pull off the road if you’re sleepy

A drowsy driver is much more likely to crash versus a well-rested driver. Do your best to remain sharp and attentive — find a safe area to rest and recharge before hitting the road again.

Enroll in KnowYourDrive®

Our safe driving app does a lot to help you form good driving habits that keep you and everyone in your car safer. With KnowYourDrive®, you’ll get scored on your safe driving performance — and you’ll receive a 10 percent discount on your auto coverage just for signing up. Our safest drivers save as much as 17 to 20 percent!*

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So, What Is Distracted Driving?

Simply put, distracted driving is doing anything that takes your attention away from the task of driving. Any time your mind and/or eyes are taken from the road, you’re technically distracted, which puts you at an increased risk of having an accident.

Distracted driving statistics alone should have us all concerned for the safety of everyone on the road. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that texting while driving is the most common form of distracted driving — and, it's the most dangerous.

The National Safety Council reports that 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by a distracted driver who was texting. Believe it or not, they also reported that texting and driving is six times more likely to pull your eyes off the road and cause an accident than is driving while intoxicated.

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Types of Distracted Driving

The first step to preventing distracted driving is understanding what distracted driving is. There are actually three main types of distracted driving according to the CDC: Cognitive, Visual and Manual. We’ve highlighted some of the most common forms of distracted driving by type:

Cognitive distractions

Cognitive distractions involve a mental shift in focus from the road:

  • Using your phone hands-free
  • Engaged in a Zoom, FaceTime or other video chat app while driving
  • Paying attention to a child or pet traveling with you in the car
  • Driving while upset or angry
  • Daydreaming or getting lost in thought
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Visual distractions

Visual distractions cause you to look away from the road:

  • Looking at a map on your phone
  • Sending or reading text messages
  • Reading and replying to email
  • Using the camera to take photos or video
  • Looking at or uploading digital media while driving
  • Watching a streaming movie and driving
  • Surfing the internet while driving
  • Checking social media

Manual distractions

Manual distractions cause you to take 1 or 2 hands off the wheel:

  • Physically holding the phone while making calls
  • Applying makeup or looking into a vanity mirror
  • Sifting through your music app
  • Eating behind the wheel
  • Multi-tasking while driving

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Is it Illegal to Use Your Phone While Driving?

Actually, it depends on which state you live in. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that there is a ban on hand-held cell phone use in almost half of the states, with 48 states banning text messaging for all drivers. Find out the distracted driving laws for your state to make sure you’re following the rules of the road.

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How Does Distracted Driving Affect Insurance?

For starters, getting into an at-fault accident will almost always make your insurance premium go up, simply because your insurance company now deems you a higher-risk driver. Distracted driving is no exception. Even if you avoid an accident but you get a ticket for distracted driving, you’re susceptible to an increase in premium.

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Protect Yourself from Distracted Drivers on the Road

Avoiding distracted driving behaviors is a great way to be safe on the road, and car insurance is a great way to stay protected from the unexpected. Talk to your agent today to find the right coverage for you.

Prevent distracted driving for young drivers

To help your family work together to drive more safely, we’ve put together a downloadable Safe Driving Promise — it’s a contract for both parents and teens that sets expectations and safe driving practices to follow. Use it to help shape your conversation on driving safely.

Learn more today about our Teen Safe Driver program and the discounts we’re offering for young drivers, too.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

*Program discounts will vary based on driving behavior. The KnowYourDrive discount applies only to the following variable coverages, which are typical for most auto policies: bodily injury liability, property damage liability, collision and comprehensive, medical expense, underinsured and uninsured and personal injury protection. Additionally, the discount does not apply to fixed fees that are part of your policy.

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Related Topics: Car Safety , Teen Drivers , Safe Driving