Distracted Driving

Girl putting on lipstick

Personal grooming: Applying make-up or giving your hair an extra brushing in the car can cost you your life. If you are not looking at the road, you're not paying attention to the driving environment.

Girl putting on lipstick

Reading: it is hard to believe that some people actually attempt to drive a vehicle while reading a newspaper, book, or trying to figure out a map. In fact, it is becoming a common practice to have a cell phone in one hand while writing down directions with the other. In cases like these, it's no mystery why collisions happen—no one is driving the car.

Passengers: passengers can be distracting if you engage in distracting conversation with them. Long conversations can take your mind off driving. Keep in mind that your first responsibility is to pay attention to driving. Researchers have discovered that a 16-year-old driver with three or more passengers tends to run nearly three times the risk of being involved in a fatal wreck as a 16-year-old driving alone.

Visiting with friends in other vehicles: Don't let saying "hi" become the ultimate "goodbye." Keep your mind on the road and your hands on the wheel. And keep your passengers' hands in the car as well—never try to pass items from one moving car to another.

Using a hand-held computer, laptop, or watching a DVD: When you pay attention to these devices your mind and eyes are engaged with something else rather than driving. Don't even consider it.

Adjusting controls: A/C, cruise control, navigation systems, and onboard computer—these are just some of the knobs, switches, buttons, and controls you can adjust while driving. The knob turning and button pushing are distractions which are even more dangerous when they become unconscious habit.

A good driver is an alert driver. This means paying attention to other road users and adjusting your driving behavior to share the road safely.

Smoking: yes, smoking has deadly long-term effects, but it can also be immediately harmful to smoke while driving. Keep both hands on the wheel, so you can avoid hazards and collisions. In California, as of January 1, 2008, smoking in a vehicle with a minor present is prohibited.