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Whether it's talking on a cell phone or fiddling with the car stereo, we've all been guilty of distracted driving. And though it may seem like a minor offense, distracted driving is serious business.
According to the California DMV, 80% of car crashes involve a driver being distracted three seconds before an accident. Even worse, studies have shown that a driver holding a cell phone is as dangerous as a drunk driver.
What's Distracted Driving?
The term "distracted driving" refers to anything that takes your hands, eyes or mind off of the road. With all the gadgets and gizmos in modern vehicles, there are plenty of distractions to go around. Cell phones, stereos, satellite navigation systems, in-car televisions, DVD players, and even video game consoles!
Driving Distractions and Your Auto Insurance Rate
Of the factors that affect auto insurance rates, your driving record has the greatest impact. If you have a car accident and it goes on your driving record, your auto insurance company will see you as a risky driver to insure, which usually translates to a higher auto insurance rate. Depending on a host of variables, your auto insurance rate could jump 40% or more following an accident.
Common Driving Distractions
The distracted driver is almost always pictured holding a cell phone. And even though people who talk on their phone while driving have a 34% higher risk of a collision (Texas Department of Transportation), people do many other strange things while behind the wheel.
People do everything from brush their teeth to make their kids' peanut butter sandwiches. People eat, tie their ties, shave, use GPS systems or change CDs. Some people read books and newspapers, or send e-mails with their smart phones.
Eliminating Driving Distractions
The Insurance Information Institute suggests these tips to eliminate driving distractions:
Don't eat or drink while driving. Spills can easily cause an accident. If you have to stop short, you could also be severely burned by hot beverages.
Shaving, putting on makeup, combing your hair and other forms of preening are best done at home.
Don't take notes while driving. If you need to jot down a reminder, use a tape recorder or pull to the side of the road.
Don't drive while talking on the telephone or text. If a call must be placed, pull off the road to a safe location.
Let your voice mail pick up your calls in tricky driving situations. It's safer and easier to retrieve your messages later.
You aren't the only one who can get distracted behind the wheel. Be aware of other drivers -- people who are drifting in and out of their lane, those who are eating, smoking, dealing with their kids, or talking on cell phones -- as their attention may not be 100% on the road.
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