Tips to reduce distracted driving

Everyone has heard about distracted driving. An Erie Insurance survey found that one-third of drivers admit to texting while driving and three-quarters have witnessed it, and other studies show similar or even higher numbers. Other forms of distracted driving include talking on the phone, eating, combing hair, talking to passengers, and almost everything else you can (and can't) imagine.

Distracted driving is a problem, but one that isn't going away. How can you help yourself and your kids understand the true dangers and work to correct a growing problem?

The key culprit is that our brains remain connected to the outside world instead of focusing solely on the task at hand. Despite society's emphasis on multitasking, something that computer operating systems and smartphones embrace, studies have shown that the human brain mostly concentrates on the immediate task. Acknowledging this limitation in context with your constantly vibrating phone requires strong will power and a proactive plan.

Put your phone away or out of site while driving.

Multitasking slows response time, whether you're eating a cheeseburger, changing the radio station, or even talking to someone instead of sending a text. The same multitasking study shows that using even a hands-free device can cause a slower response time than being legal intoxicated.

To emphasize the true danger of reading or sending a text, Psychology Today suggests using an awareness test outside of the car to see firsthand just how much your reaction time is impacted when you're sending a text. Citing examples from classroom tests, students who were texting didn't just slow down the test, it sometimes ground to a halt.

Distracted driving is a common talking point among safety experts, parents and teachers, yet it remains one of the most significant dangers on road today. Kicking the problem takes extra work, and understanding why it's a problem and how it can be corrected is the first step.

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