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Tips for avoiding distracted driving

Distraction on the road can have serious consequences. A mere moment of losing focus at a critical time can lead to an accident and serious injury.

While you obviously cannot guarantee yourself a ride completely free of any distraction whatsoever, you can take steps to minimize the chances of your attention wandering. Advance planning to avoid distraction can make your commute much safer.

Minimize or cut out cell phone use

Today, cell phones pose a major distraction hazard for drivers. In Maryland, the law prohibits drivers from using a handheld phone to talk or text. While the law allows motorists with unrestricted licenses to use a phone via hands-free technology such as Bluetooth, these uses can also be quite distracting. They still occupy your mental focus, if not your hands. The safest practice is to avoid any type of phone use while driving.

Before you set out, consider any reason you would feel compelled to interact with your phone. Make any necessary calls before you leave, or save them for afterward. Muting call, text and update alerts can help you refrain from "just quickly" checking your phone. Using your phone to play music or get directions? Select your playlist before you go and place your phone securely on your dashboard. Check your route and turn on voice directions to minimize visual distractions.

Say no to multitasking at the wheel

Eating, drinking, grooming and picking objects off the floor are some common physical distractions that cause drivers take their hand or hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road. Plan ahead to avoid a situation when your drive is the only time you have left to eat or make yourself presentable.

Traveling with children and pets

Children and pets can create dangerous distractions as well. Make sure kids are secured appropriately. There are also products that can secure pets in a vehicle, which can keep them safer in the event of a crash and also prevent them from jumping around the car. Providing everyone with snacks and entertainment before setting out can cut down on distracting arguments and complaints.

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