How to Avoid Distractions While Driving

Every year, thousands of people lose their lives due to distracted driving.[1] You can limit the danger of distractions by deciding on your route ahead of time, placing your phone on silent, and waiting until your car is parked to eat. Additionally, knowing how to drive with passengers is another great way to prevent distractions while driving.


EditMaking Adjustments Before You Start Driving

  1. Finish personal grooming at home. Give yourself enough time in the morning to dress, shave, and apply makeup. If you need to, wake up 15 to 30 minutes early to make sure you are dressed and groomed before stepping out the door. This way you can avoid having to do these things while driving.[2]
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    • If you don’t have enough time in the morning to finish getting ready, then bring your grooming supplies with you in the car. Wait until you arrive at your destination and your car is parked before finishing your grooming routine.
  2. Secure loose objects. Before you start the car, make sure to store loose objects that can roll around and distract you while you are driving. Place them in the trunk, a secure bag, or in your glove compartment. This way you can avoid reaching for these objects in the car if they get loose, which can be dangerous.[3]
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    • For example, place grooming supplies, clothes and shoes, books, and bags in the trunk or glove compartment.
  3. Decide on your route ahead of time. While sitting in your parked car, confirm and familiarize yourself with the route you will be taking. Also, check the traffic report while you are confirming your route. This way, you can avoid having to re-route your GPS while driving.[4]
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    • If you are using a GPS, make sure it is set up before you begin driving, and use the voice function so you do not have to glance at your GPS.
  4. Adjust your car’s controls beforehand. Make sure to adjust the climate controls to the correct setting. Also set your radio to the station you want to listen to and adjust the volume while your car is parked.[5]
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    • Additionally, make sure to adjust your mirrors, seat, and steering wheel to the correct positions beforehand.
  5. Fasten children and pets. Before you take off, make sure your children are fastened in their car seats or seatbelts. Also, make sure your pets are in a cage and the cage is secured with a seatbelt. By doing this, you can avoid having to reach back to adjust your child’s car seat, or your pet’s cage while you are driving.[6]
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    • When driving with animals in the car, always make sure they are secured in a cage.

EditAvoiding Manual and Visual Distractions

  1. Refrain from eating while driving. Because food spills are major sources of distraction while driving, try to avoid eating in the car, especially messy foods. Instead, eat before you get in the car, or eat once you have reached your destination.[7]
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    • Make sure to place drinks, like coffee, water, and sodas, in secure drink holders while driving to avoid spills.
  2. Turn off your cellphone. Cellphones are also a major source of distraction for drivers. Either place your cellphone on silent, turn it off, or place it out of reach in your purse or the glove compartment. Additionally, look into your phone’s safety settings. See if you can create a message that will automatically respond to incoming texts and calls while you drive.[8]
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    • Some phones have features that turn off text and call functions while the GPS is on.
  3. Pull over on the side of the road. Do this if there is an emergency and you need to take a call. If you have to eat while driving, make sure to pull over to eat as well. Additionally, if you need to attend to children and pets while driving, then pull over.[9]
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    • If you are on the highway or a busy street, make sure to exit before pulling over. Then make your way to a street that is less busy.

EditDriving with Passengers

  1. Limit the number of passengers. Try to avoid driving with too many passengers, especially if you are a new driver. Loud or talkative passengers can be a distraction in and of themselves. So try to drive with only one or two people at a time.[10]
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    • For young drivers, the risk of being in a crash triples when they are driving with passengers who are their peers versus driving alone.[11]
  2. Use your passengers wisely. When you do have someone in the car with you, let them control the music, GPS, and the climate controls. You can also let them answer your texts or phone calls while you are driving. This will not only help you focus on the road, but it will also give your passengers something to do instead of distracting you. Let your passengers know ahead of time what their role is while you drive.[12]
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    • For example, “Ok, Kevin, since you are in the passenger’s seat, your main job is to adjust the controls and GPS, as well as answer texts and calls so I can focus on driving.”
  3. Save serious conversations for later. Serious or stressful conversations can get emotional. When your emotions are running high, it is more difficult to focus on the task at hand, in this case driving. Let your passenger know that you would like to talk, but that you would rather do it later when you are not driving. This way you can focus on driving, and give the conversation your full attention when the time is right.[13]
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    • You can say for example, “I would like to talk about this with you, but right now is not a good time since I am driving. Let’s wait until we arrive at our destination to talk.”
    • If things start to get heated, then pull the car over in a safe place to diffuse the situation.

EditDealing with External Distractions

  1. Avoid rubbernecking at accident scenes. When approaching a car accident, it is a common mistake to slow down or stop to check out the damage. But this kind of behavior can cause more accidents. Instead, keep your eyes on the road ahead of you and drive at a reduced speed.[14]
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  2. Avoid looking directly into the headlights of oncoming traffic. Do this when you are driving at night. The headlights of oncoming traffic can temporarily blind you and make you feel disoriented. Instead, avert your eyes by looking down and to the right until the car passes.[15]
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    • You will still be able to see other cars around you with your peripheral vision.
  3. Keep your windshield clean. Clean the inside and outside of your windshield with windshield cleaner on a regular basis (about once or twice a month). Cleaning your windshield on a regular basis can help to reduce sun glare, which can be a distraction in and of itself.[16]
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    • You can also reduce sun glare by using your visors and wearing sunglasses when it is very sunny outside.
  4. Ignore angry drivers. When other drivers honk at you, cut you off, or make inappropriate faces or gestures, try to avoid returning the behavior. Instead, simply ignore them and carry on driving.[17]
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  5. Pull over to look at scenery. If you are on a scenic road trip, make sure to pull over in a safe place to check out the scenery. Checking out the scenery while you are driving is a major distraction that could cause you to get into an accident.[18]
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  • Try to avoid driving while you are tired. Instead, take a nap before you start driving, especially if you have a long drive. If you start getting tired while driving, then pull over in a safe place to take a nap.

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