It's a fact: most car accidents are the result of distracted driving.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each day over 8 people are killed and 1,161 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. What's more alarming, is that the number is likely much higher due to inconsistencies in reporting.

Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. The CDC classifies three main types of distracted driving:
  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road,
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel, and
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
Distracted driving includes things like eating or putting on makeup, changing the radio, fiddling with GPS, or, most notably, texting. Texting is most likely the #1 culprit for accidents involving distracted driving.

We all need to be better. Here are 5 ways to stop distracted driving:

1. Plan ahead
Load your GPS, review directions and get the car set up before you go.

2. Ask for help
That person who called "captain" needs to earn their spot! Have your passengers look up directions, make calls or switch the radio while you're driving.

3. Don't get emotional

Save the serious talks for another time -- getting emotional while you drive is very distracting and dangerous.

4. Skip the drive-thru
It seems counter-intuitive, but the drive thru is a huge culprit for distracted driving! Trying to maneuver a Big Mac or sip your hot coffee is most likely taking your mind off the road -- at a minimum, it's taking your hands off the wheel.

5. Turn the phone off

Having your phone ring or beep is distracting -- even if you tell yourself not to answer it. If you keep your phone on "in case of an accident," at least turn it to silent, and place it somewhere you won't be tempted to check it.

Remember: nothing is as important as staying safe on the road.

Source: CDC, Distracted Driving | Farmers Insurance, 7 Smart Ways to Distract Yourself from Distracted Driving
Photo credit: Flickr/Alex Ragone
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