Now that you have all the facts and the myths of distracted driving, it’s time to run through what not to do. Be forewarned that this list is extensive, but if you follow these guidelines, you reduce your chances of getting in an accident. Because an accident starts off any trip on a sour note, or ends it altogether.
1. Using a Phone
Using a phone to talk, text, watch videos, or play games—pretty much messing with a phone at all—is distracted driving. Just say no. Put that phone in your purse or your pocket to resist the temptation. If you absolutely have to answer a text or make an emergency phone call, pull over to safety off the road. Your passengers, the pedestrians, and even your future self will thank you.
2. Using GPS
Whether on your phone or a separate device, a navigation system is meant to be used while driving, and that’s perfectly okay…as long as you don’t fiddle with or adjust it while driving. If your destination changes or Siri suddenly goes offline, pull over and fix it. The few extra minutes is nothing compared to your safety or the safety of others.
3. Adjusting Music or Radio
Listen to music, radio, books on tapes, CDs, and any other audio to your heart’s content. Just don’t try to change, adjust, or mess with it while driving. Even an action as minor as changing a radio station can distract you completely from driving.
4. Watching Videos
If you can’t talk on the phone and drive at the same time, then watching movies or videos while driving is out of the question. This might seem unfair on those long road trips or as you drive the youth to that distant camping destination, it’s only a few hours of boredom. Turn on the radio, instead (but not while you’re driving!).
5. Reading (Anything)
Reading anything like books, maps, or billboards distracts from driving. If you need to consult a map, pull over. You’ll actually be able to concentrate better on pinpointing your location with your full attention on it than you would be with part of your attention on driving.
6. Eating and Drinking
Yes, we know that it stinks to pull over or stop to grab a quick bite to eat, especially when you have a long way to go and only so many hours in the day. However, those few moments will help fuel you for the rest of the drive and you’ll reduce your chances of getting in a distraction-induced accident.
7. Grooming Yourself (or Others)
Putting on make-up requires more attention and concentration than you get while driving. Avoid a mascara smear and a dented bumper by doing your make-up before or after your drive. For you men out there, this also means no brushing teeth, coming hair, or shaving while driving. Hands at 10 and 2, people: 10 and 2.
8. Reaching or Handling
Reaching for something like a drink or a baby or a paper can be a hard instinct to ignore, especially if that baby’s screaming for a pacifier. Because of this, resist the urge and keep that baby safe. Keep yourself safe, and place both hands on the wheel.
Rubbernecking is often spoken of in terms of drivers staring at accident scenes, but it’s also synonymous with gawking at scenery, people, cars…pretty much anything besides the road in front of you. It’s hard to drive in a straight line when you’re head’s turned to the left.
Sometimes that music just calls to your inner dancing queen, and you just…have…to…move. So pull over, and really get into it. Then get back to driving. Dancing and driving don’t mix.
This list is by no means conclusive. Don’t write, juggle, or do gymnastics while you drive. Don’t cut your own hair (or somebody else’s). Just drive, and maybe listen to music and have a good time. Happy driving, and be safe.