Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Change News
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory

Bookmark and Share

Driving Distractions

How to Keep Yourself From Driving Distracted

Each year in the United States, there are more than 16 million motor vehicle crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 20 to 30 percent of those crashes involve driver distraction.

"Whether it's because of work or pleasure, our vehicles have almost become second homes," said Jeff Blum, director, PPG Industries Automotive Aftermarket Alliance, which includes the CertifiedFirst™ Network of more than 1,500 professional auto body repair centers across North America. "That means that more and more drivers are doing things in the car that they might normally do in their homes, including eating, grooming, and talking on the phone. The auto body repair centers in our network, both dealership or independently owned, see vehicles on a daily basis that are damaged in crashes as a result of distracted drivers."

"There are a lot of distractions both outside and inside a vehicle, Despite their best efforts, even the most careful and attentive drivers can become involved in an accident."

While cell phones are usually targeted as the prime culprit of distracted driving, studies by NHTSA show that there are a number of things driving motorists to distraction. Personal grooming-combing hair, applying makeup, adjusting contact lenses-eating or drinking, changing the radio or CD player, and even children riding in a vehicle are also distractions that can lead drivers to an accident. But because cell phones impose a mental distraction as well as the physical distraction, they have a particularly bad image as a driving hazard.

There are more than 140 million cell phone users in the U. S. alone. According to a government survey, about three percent of those are on the road at any given time. That's 4.2 million drivers talking on the phone every day. Now that phones are becoming increasingly complex, with the incorporation of wireless Internet connections, cameras, and text messaging, the hazard of talking of the phone while driving is on the rise.

New York is the only U.S. state that currently has a ban on cell phone use while driving. Ten states, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, have enacted legislation that partially bans cell phone use while driving. Partial-ban legislation includes bans for school bus drivers, minors, and those with provisional or learners' driving licenses as well as allowing individual municipalities to set their own restrictions. Massachusetts law says that drivers must keep at least one hand on the steering wheel while holding a phone.

Even with the high visibility of "the cell phone factor," 18 to 28 percent of crashes where driver distraction was a factor involved other distractions. New telematics, or electronic devices like televisions, DVD players and navigation systems, often come standard on many new vehicles and are in great demand, but can also create distractions for drivers.

"There are a lot of distractions both outside and inside a vehicle," said Blum. "Despite their best efforts, even the most careful and attentive drivers can become involved in an accident."

If you're ever in an accident, here's a list of 11 easy steps to remember as compiled by the National Safety Council:

  • Stop your vehicle if it is clear, safe and legal.

  • Move the vehicle out of the traveled roadway, if it is clear, safe and legal. (In some states it is against the law to move the vehicle from the place where the accident occurred. Check the ordinance in your area.)

  • Turn off the ignitions of the cars involved.

  • Make a first aid check of all persons involved in the accident.

  • Call the police and, if necessary, emergency medical services.

  • Mark the scene of the accident with flares or retroreflective triangles.

  • Gather the names* of all persons in the motor vehicles and people who witnessed the accident.

  • Make a quick diagram of where the vehicle occupants were seated and indicate the vehicles' direction of travel and lane. Also note the date, time and weather conditions.

  • Ask to see the other driver's license* and write down the number.

  • Exchange insurance company information. DO NOT discuss "fault" or make statements about the accident to anyone but the police.

  • Get a copy of the police report of the accident from the local precinc

Visit and go to the "What To Do In Case of an Accident" section. There you'll find advice on being prepared, including a helpful, downloadable "Accident Report Form" that can be kept in the glove compartment. You can also find the nearest CertifiedFirst Network collision repair center near you by using the dealer locator.