Texting isn’t the only dangerous behind-the-wheel activity

transportation and vehicle concept - man drinking coffee and using phone while driving the carWhen someone mentions “distracted driving,” what do you think about? Most likely, it’s texting while driving. It’s a major cause of car accidents. But did you know that texting isn’t the only dangerous activity you can take part in while you’re driving?

Any distraction that takes your eyes —and mind — off the road has the potential to cause an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each day accidents caused by distracted drivers kill at least nine people and injure more than 1,153.

Most people don’t realize that eating, talking, drinking, shaving, putting on makeup, reading, adjusting in-dash controls, downloading music, changing the radio station, singing, interacting with children in the backseat and using navigation features all can increase your odds of an accident. Even hands-free devices can cause distraction, because your mind is partially on the conversation you’re having.

What can you do to make sure you don’t become a distracted driver? The most important thing you can do is to take away what is most distracting to you while you’re on the road. Tempted to reach for your phone to see who texted you? Do you find it difficult to not answer your phone while driving? Consider turning off your cell phone before you set out so that you don’t hear texts or calls coming through. Love to listen to music in the car? Adjust the radio or put in your CD before you shift into drive.

Make sure you keep your eyes and mind focused on what is around you on the road and keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. And don’t be shy. If you are passenger and notice the driver is distracted, let them know that you aren’t comfortable with the way they are driving. The life you save may just be your own.