Safe driving calls for two hands on the wheel, two eyes on the road and one brain fully focused on the task. Multi-tasking, so much part of our busy lives these days, is not a wise option when you're driving. Many states have now outlawed the use of hand-held cell phones. However, research suggests that hands-free phones, like a blue-tooth headset or through the car audio system, are hardly any safer. Hands-free talking devices are already banned in some parts of Europe, and the US will eventually follow their footsteps.
We can probably all agree that talking to another person, either by phone or to a passenger in your car, demands a degree of concentration. This comes from the concentration you would otherwise be devoting to your driving. In other words, talking is a distraction that affects your safety.
To be as safe as possible, do not use a cell phone while you are driving.
If you get a call that you simply cannot miss, answer if the law permits you and either pull off the road or tell the other party that you will call back.
However, you should never, ever try to send a text message while driving. It is illegal in most states, and for a very good reason! If you have teen drivers in your house, please impress this safety code on them. If you or anyone else text and drive, you are essentially diving with the same alertness and awareness as a drunk driver. No joke.
As for other distractions, while you might be able to control excitable kids in the car, it is not such an easy task with pets. However, there are four things you can do to reduce distractions while in the car:
- Keep pets in the back of the vehicle. Never in the front and, absolutely, never on your lap when you're driving.
- Tether them with a short leash. This disables their ability to bounce around.
- If you must, use a muzzle them so they are not able to bark with full force.
- Have a passenger in the back with them who can both calm and control them.
If you have a particularly lively dog, it might be best for the animal to stay at home instead of riding with you.
Above all, just stay save. Getting into a car is a dangerous thing. Remember, accidents don't 'happen'. They are caused, which means that YOU can avoid them.
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