Driving while distracted is one of the most dangerous risks one can take. In 2020, more than 3,100 people were killed and about 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Taking the chance is never worth it, and there are simple ways to steer clear of hazards.
Here are a few basic tips to avoid distracted driving and stay safe behind the wheel.
Put the phone down
Phones have become extensions of their owners. Many people are addicted to their smartphones and feel obligated to react to every notification in real time. However, phone activity is an extremely reckless habit to engage in while driving. If you are in an emergency and you absolutely must place or answer a phone call or respond to or send a text message, safely pull over on the shoulder or park in a nearby lot. This also applies to surfing the web or checking your social networks, email, and other apps. Put your phone in silent mode to avoid interruptions if need be.
Texting while driving is arguably more dangerous than talking on the phone. If you take your eyes off the road even for a couple of seconds to look at your phone, your chances of being in an accident increase up to 23 times more likely. Most smartphones have a built-in setting that allows users to send an automatic message letting others know they are driving and will respond later. Remember that being on the phone while driving for any reason — other than to report an emergency — is illegal throughout Wisconsin.
Listen to the radio at a reasonable volume
While some people fantasize they are about to be crowned the next American Idol in their cars, it’s not always the best move to blast music while driving. Not only can loud music hinder people from hearing sirens, train horns, bridge bells, and other warning signals, but it can also impair the other senses. If you like to listen to the radio, feel free to do so. Just make sure your tunes or podcasts are set at a low enough volume to be able to be fully aware of the outside world.
Keep children, pets, and items secure
Make sure kids are wearing their seatbelts or properly secured in their car seats and that pets stay in their designated zone in the back of the vehicle. Never let children or pets roam around in the car, as this can result in severe injury. Resist the urge to reach for items if they fall out of place while the car is in motion.
When you are behind the wheel, the key is to focus on your driving, the other vehicles on the road, and pedestrians. Do not eat, drink, apply makeup or groom yourself, adjust your mirrors, select a new song from your playlist, or fiddle with your navigation system. If you have a passenger, have them take responsibility for any navigation tasks. Better yet, take care of these items before hitting the road.
At Rural Mutual, we care deeply about the well-being of our customers and their loved ones. Having the right auto and life insurance bundle is an invaluable investment in case you are ever involved in an accident. Reach out to your local agent to learn more about road safety and our personalized insurance coverage.