We hope by now you realize that driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving are 2 things you should never (ever) do, but there are other less notoriously dangerous behaviors that can also compromise your safety behind the wheel. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day 8 people are killed and over 1,000 injured because of accident cause by distracted driving. Find out which distracted driving habits you’re doing and which ones you should do your best to kick.

1. Grooming
Next time you’re tempted to do a little beauty maintenance during a red light, think again. Plucking your eyebrows, combing your hair, freshening your mascara, or even squeezing a pimple are all behaviors that can potentially divert your attention from where it needs to be (on the road in front of you). If time is an issue, allow yourself more time for grooming before you leave the house. Don’t leave items that might tempt you to groom within arm’s reach. Still finding it hard to resist? Wait till you can safely pull over and stop the car to take care of beauty business.

2. Eating
Unwrapping a cheeseburger or looking for a ketchup packet may only take a few seconds, but those few seconds take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that eating and driving can increase your likelihood of a crash by a staggering 80 percent. Can’t quit the drive-thru? Consider eating inside the restaurant or pulling into a parking space to finish your meal before getting back on the road.

3. Dealing with your kids
Is your kiddo going bananas after flinging his pacifier into some far corner of the car (again)? Having a fussy baby or whiny child in the back of your car can distract even the most focused, safety-conscious among us. Remember that lost pacifier? Resist feeling around in the back seat with your one free hand and wait till you can safely pull over to perform this search and rescue. Similarly, wait till the car is safely stopped to perform other acts of parental love (finding their favorite song on your car’s entertainment system, opening an applesauce pouch, wiping a nose). It might feel worse in the moment, but it’s worth it to keep you, them, and everyone else on the road safe.

4. Using touchscreen systems
Having more options at our fingertips can be a tempting distraction behind the wheel. Touchscreens have become ubiquitous in many new cars and are used for everything from navigation to dashboard displays and entertainment systems. Although these systems offer us plenty of great things, they also require more attention than an old-fashioned turn of the dial. Looking at these screens while driving means you’re not keeping your eyes on the road. Stay safe and do your best to avoid nonessential use of touchscreen systems while driving.

Don’t become a statistic. Do your part to stay focused on the task at hand every time you get behind the wheel.   

Safe and smart | Car safety


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.