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Distracted driving and cell phones: Tips to stay safe

Today, our cell phones link us to the world. They connect us with our friends and family, with our jobs, with our community. These devices provide us entertainment, community, and directions. While these handheld devices have become an integral part of our everyday lives, we must acknowledge the ever-present danger of distracted driving as a result.  

Distracted driving is any action which takes the driver's eyes and attention off the road or their hands off of the wheel. This can include eating, talking, or playing with the stereo, but the use of handheld devices has increased the dangers of distracted driving tremendously. 

In 2015, there were nearly 3,500 fatalities and close to 400,000 injuries related to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On any given day, there will be approximately 660,000 distracted drivers on the road, with teenagers representing the largest distracted demographic. 

Distracted driving is preventable and every accident caused by it is tragic. Here we have provided good, better, and best practices for reducing your chances of driving distracted.

Good: Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road while moving

Whenever your car is in motion, your hands need to be on the wheel and your eyes need to be on the road. We understand that sometimes we need to use our phones while we are traveling, whether to communicate with friends, family, or someone at work or to get directions to where we are going. To avoid an accident, wait to use your cellphone until you are pulled off in a safe spot or have reached your destination.

Better: Install hands-free technology

We use our phones for all sorts of things in our vehicles from directions, to music, to talking to friends. One way to reduce the risk of phone-related distracted driving is to set up your car so that you can use your phone without having to take your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel. Many cars have Bluetooth that allow you to answer phone calls from the steering wheel and speak through a headpiece or speakers. You can get a phone holder to keep your phone at eye level, which is incredibly helpful when you are trying to follow GPS directions. 

Best: Put your phone away

If you're driving alone, put your phone away.  No message, video, e-mail, or Facebook post is worth a car accident. If you have a co-pilot, put them on phone duty.  This ensures you have access to your phone and that you are making the roadway a safer place.

It only takes a few seconds looking away from the road to cause an accident. It is important for all of us to take steps to prevent distractions behind the wheel, and making an effort to stop using your cellphone will reduce the risk of distractions on the road.  

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