7 Smart Ways to Distract Yourself from Distracted Driving
The dangers of distracted driving are pretty well known at this point. Newspapers (remember those?), magazines, and the internet are laden with horror stories and statistics about texting and driving. The thing is though, as serious as it is, distracted driving wasn’t invented along with the cell phone. It’s been around a long, long time. Remember when you were first learning to drive? Your folks always said “Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel!” Or maybe that was Jim Morrison…
So to distract yourself from the myriad distractions on the road, here are 7 ways to maintain your focus and drive safer out there:
1. Don’t be afraid to just turn off your phone
Whatever they just texted you, it can wait. Try putting your phone out of reach, turning the screen around, or just shutting it off (yes, phone’s do have ‘Off’ buttons). However you do it, just make sure your phone is out of sight and out of mind. When you get to your destination, it’s cool to text back “Sorry, I just got off the road.” Trust us, they’ll understand.
2. Organize your stuff and avoid multitasking
Know where your important stuff is before driving off. Set up your GPS route before you hit the gas, get your EZ-Pass out or have any toll money ready, and keep your morning coffee in the cup holder where it belongs. The better organized you are beforehand, the less you’ll have to search around and take your eyes off the road when you need something.
3. Let your passengers do some of the work
That’s what they’re there for! You’re the driver…your job is to drive the car and get everyone there without crashing. If you have other people in the car, let them do some of the other work. Their hands are free, so let them run the GPS, find just the right song on the radio, or send a text for you. It’ll give them something productive to do and take some distracting tasks off of your plate.
4. Save the serious discussions for later
OK, so it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to not lose yourself in stressful thoughts or serious conversations when you’re on the road. Driving is the task at hand, so save that “We need to talk” moment for later. Whatever it is, it’s not worth risking your life or the lives of others over.
5. Use voice commands and Bluetooth sparingly
They’re great technologies, but hands-free texting and talking are still pretty distracting. Your hands may be on the wheel, but it takes your mind and attentions off the road. So only use them when you absolutely need to.
6. Use your Smartphone to drive safer
Some people need to use their Smartphone’s GPS app in the car, so they can’t just switch it off completely. But when you’re driving, try putting your phone on silent. Actually, a lot of modern phones even have a programmable feature that turns off other functions when the GPS is on. Also, there are plenty of apps out there these days that can disable texting, send an automated text response, and hold calls while you’re driving. So poke around your safety settings and app store to maximize your phone’s safety capabilities.
7. Make your drive time, quiet time
We all need our little Zen moments of the day. And while most of us don’t think of drive time as relaxing, remember that it’s OK to turn off the radio, pause the iPod, or ask your passengers to shut it. It can be pretty nice to collect your thoughts and focus on the single task at hand. And it makes it easier to concentrate on merging or finding that next exit when things are quiet.
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