Kelly Smith

This is a topic I was hesitant to write about because even I need to keep this in mind, but I feel it’s necessary to mention it. I’m certain you’ve all heard and seen messages about the dangers of texting and being distracted while driving. Of course, it’s easy to brush this off by thinking that only compulsive texters will get into a wreck, but let’s think about it on a more realistic level. If you’re driving and your phone notifies you of a text, what would you do? If you’re listening to music and want to change the song, what would you do? Becoming distracted by these things is easier than we typically want to think.

My drivers’ education instructor always told us that even a second or two of our eyes not being on the road can be potentially devastating, and he even showed us a diagram of how far into another lane our car can travel in those seconds based on its speed. Basically, a second of distraction can have you leaning into the next lane if you’re not careful. Imagine what three to five seconds could do.

Again, I realize many of us are smart enough to know not to engage ourselves in a full conversation via text while driving down a busy road. That’s obvious. I’m talking about the less obvious, seemingly innocent glances at our phone or iPod. There’s an AT&T commercial I’ve seen many times that features a slow motion rewind of a car accident leading up to the crucial moment when a mother looks at her phone with her daughter in the backseat. I’m not trying to preach, but I’m saying it’s far more likely to happen than we think.

But what about life? What if we’re waiting to answer a text from someone? Well, this is where planning ahead pays off. If you’re expecting someone to contact you, let them know you might be driving when they contact you. If it’s essential, try to inform them beforehand to call you, so you can at least be looking at the road while you talk (though this typically isn’t strongly advised, either).

In a nutshell, I would really avoid texting if you’re driving a vehicle. Set your phone to vibrate to notify you whether or not it’s a text message or phone call. Even if it’s a phone call, don’t try pulling it out of your pocket in crowded areas. Then again, if you choose to just ignore it to reduce the temptation, that’s fine too. I myself am guilty of wanting to change a song on my iPod while driving. The strongest suggestion I have for this is to hold the iPod in front of you so you can glance briefly between it and the road just as efficiently as you would with the speedometer.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. But these are among many tips I have on how to reduce distractions in the car. Let’s be safe out there! After all, as we all know, things only get worse when the cold weather comes.