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Staying Safe While Driving

Texting and Driving / Distracted Driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. On average in 2010, seven teenagers died every day of injuries experienced in motor-vehicle accidents. 1

Learning to drive and being out on the road is a huge responsibility and requires a lot of concentration. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 80 percent of auto accidents involve some form of distracted driving—anything that takes your eyes off the road (visual); mind off the road (cognitive); or hands off the steering wheel (manual). 2

To minimize your chances of becoming distracted and endangering yourself and others on the road, follow these tips when getting behind the wheel:

Make sure you’re well rested.
A study conducted by the AAA Foundation found driving after going 20+ hours without sleep is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08, the legal limit in most states.3
Don’t text and drive.
Most states have banned texting while driving under distracted driving laws. Those who send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident.
Don’t drive when you’re upset or angry.
When emotions are strong, it can be difficult to control them, particularly when you’re angry or upset about something. Take the time to calm yourself before you get in the car. Don’t run the risk of making an irrational decision that could get you into an accident.4
Create an emergency kit.
Fill a kit with first-aid items, a power bar, a flashlight, a car charger, and any other things you may need in the case of an emergency. Spend a little money on a reputable GPS to have in your car if one isn’t already built in; smartphones can act as a GPS, but they may not be the most reliable. It may be old-school, but keeping a paper map in your car will help if you’re stuck in bad weather with a limited power source.
Register for roadside assistance programs.
You never know when your car will break down, run out of gas, get a flat tire, or need to be towed. Look into a roadside assistance membership. AAA is one of the most popular, but many insurance companies have their own programs that offer affordable rates and reliable service.
Use your cell phone only in emergency situations.
When you’re driving and must use your cell phone for an emergency, pull to the side of the road or use a hands-free device.
Don’t eat, shave, put on makeup, or engage in other distracting activities while you’re driving.
Eating in the driver’s seat increases the odds of getting into an accident by 80 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2013).
Don’t adjust the car’s controls while you’re driving.
It’s good to be familiar with your car’s controls, but don’t touch them when the car is in motion. Take care of the controls before you leave your parking spot or wait until you’ve reached a stop sign or red light to quickly change the controls as needed.

1 Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). (2009). Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault. Washington, DC, 2009. Available:

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. Atlanta, GA, 2012. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. (2009). Transportation with Technology. Available:

4 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Why Do People Have Drowsy Driving Crashes? Washington, DC, 1999. Available:

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