According to CAA, over 26% of all vehicle crashes in the United States are caused due to hands-free phone use. Additionally, over 80% of collisions are attributed to distracted driving. Distracted driving is one of the largest killers on the road, and it’s also one of the most preventable offenses.
Cities across North America are ramping up their penalties for distracted driving simply because it’s happening more often than ever before. Not to mention it’s claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of young drivers every year. Even things as simple as eating while driving can be counted as distracted driving and puts your life and others at risk.
If you’re ready to take accountability for your actions and learn about how you can prevent distracted driving, this guide is here to help. With the use of this preventing distracted driving handbook, you’ll be well on your way to keeping the roads safer.
Tips for Preventing Distracted Driving
1. Pull Over for Emergency Calls
First and foremost, it’s highly recommended that you use your cellphone for emergency purposes only. However, it’s also important that you pull over in the event of an emergency call.
It’s far safer to direct yourself to a safe parking lot or the side of the road when you need to answer a call. Even using the built-in Bluetooth in your vehicle can be highly distracting for new drivers. You don’t want to accidentally miss an important visual cue and get into a crash.
2. Pull Over for Drowsiness
Distracted driving doesn’t only revolve around using gadgets while operating a vehicle. Even if you’re a little tired, you’re not operating at your highest potential, which is a distraction. If you find that you’re getting too tired to drive efficiently, it’s safer to pull over and rest your eyes.
Additionally, you could call a friend or family member to pick you up and get you home safely. According to Geico, nearly 37% of drivers in the U.S. have fallen asleep while driving.
3. Finish Your Grooming At Home
You might be surprised to know that plenty of people groom themselves while driving. This includes brushing your hair right before pulling into work or checking your face for any blemishes.
Take the extra time at home to finish your grooming so you don’t find yourself trying to make last-minute changes while you’re behind the wheel. Not to mention it’d be far simpler to finish your grooming in the comfort of your own home.
4. Make Vehicle Adjustments At Home
Another important thing to do while you’re still at home is to make any adjustments to your car. This is particularly important for families who share a vehicle.
You might need to pull your seat up closer to the steering wheel or adjust the rearview mirror. Instead of doing this while your vehicle is in motion, you can easily create a comfortable driving environment in your own driveway.
It’s also important to program your playlist before you pull out of the driveway, as adjusting the radio and switching between songs takes your eyes off the road. It’s highly likely many drivers have gotten into accidents while attempting to switch their driving soundtrack.
5. Silence Your Electronics
It’s not recommended that you hide your electronics, as you’ll want to make sure they’re readily accessible in the event of an accident. However, you can take the extra step to make sure that they’re silenced.
While listening to the radio or having the windows down, it’s likely you won’t even notice any alerts that are coming to your phone. This is one of the best ways to make sure you’re not tempted to answer a text or a call while you’re driving. Once you’ve stopped, you can answer all texts and calls.
6. Limiting the Number of Passengers
Picking up all of your friends after class seems like a great idea until you realize how distracting your friends are. By limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle, you’re limiting the number of distractions. You won’t have to worry about several conversations going on at the same time or people trying to change the song on the radio while you’re driving.
To add, it’s not necessary for you to drive solo all of the time; however, you should keep the passenger limit of your vehicle to one to two people at the same time. In fact, there are plenty of areas that won’t allow newly licensed drivers to have more than one to two passengers until they acquire their graduated license.
7. Don’t Eat and Drive
Eating and driving is another incredibly common way for drivers to get distracted. Even something as simple as enjoying a burger can cause distractions.
If you have to have a snack while driving, then it’s best to snack smart. Choose something that you can eat without having to take your eyes off the road. Additionally, you won’t want to have any food that you have to prepare while behind the wheel.
If at all possible, it’s highly recommended that you pull off to enjoy your mid-drive snack. You could easily pull into the parking lot of a fast food establishment to enjoy a sandwich.
If you don’t have time, then wait until you get to work to eat your breakfast. Your bosses will surely appreciate you showing up on time and alive rather than not at all.
8. Set Your GPS Beforehand
This is one of the most important tips in this preventing distracted driving handbook. It’s impossible to assume you’ll never use GPS, especially as it’s such a convenient technology. A better compromise is to consider setting your GPS before you get on the road.
The vast majority of programs will reroute themselves for you if you make a wrong turn or wind up getting yourself lost. All you need to do is have the audio prompts playing through your car stereo to know where you’re going. When you’re still at home or work, program the address into your GPS, and you’ll be good to go.
Benefits of Preventing Distracted Driving
The two largest (and most obvious) benefits of not driving distracted are you can protect yourself and others. In addition, there are many other benefits to experience by maintaining a clean driving record. Many insurance companies reward their drivers in a variety of ways.
Many insurance providers, such as Allstate, offer rewards to safe drivers. These rewards can then be rolled into gift cards or money that you can use at participating retailers. As an example, if you reach specific safe-driving milestones, you’ll earn points that accumulate over time. Such as taking 10 safe trips can help you work your way towards gift cards.
If you’re not interested in earning gift cards, there may also be the potential to earn cash in exchange for safe driving. Bonus checks are a common reward for drivers with clean driving records.
After a certain amount of time, if you don’t incur any tickets, you’ll receive a check in the mail totaling a certain amount. It’s important to confirm the requirements you’ll need to meet in order to receive these rewards.
Another great way that insurance companies reward drivers who don’t drive distracted is with deductible rewards. These rewards can be applied to different types of coverage that you have. However, they are likely to be applied to your collision coverage.
The amounts that you’ll be able to save will vary depending on the provider. For example, Allstate offers $100 off your collision deductible. You then earn an additional $100 in savings each year that you are accident-free.
Safe Driving Bonuses
If you find that your insurance provider doesn’t have specific rewards for safe drivers, you’re going to want to ask about general bonuses. Typically referred to as safe driving bonuses, these are discounts on your rates. The discounts are applied either once or twice a year and only come into effect if you maintain a clean driving record.
Penalties for Distracted Driving
Now that you are aware of tips to prevent distracted driving as well as the benefits of being a safe driver, it’s time to consider the penalties. Insurance companies aren’t the only party that will penalize you if you drive distracted. You’re likely to face far harsher punishments from law enforcement.
Below are the most common penalties for distracted driving by state. It’s important to note these laws are ever-changing, especially as distracted driving is becoming a far more prevalent issue.
- Alabama: First-time offenses in Alabama are $25, and subsequent offenses will cost more.
- Alaska: Texting and driving is a misdemeanor in Alaska. A penalty of $10,000 and one year in prison is the maximum punishment.
- Arizona: There aren’t statewide laws for Arizona at this time. Refer to your local laws for distracted driving fines.
- Arkansas: Fines up to $100 are established in Arkansas.
- California: First-time offenses in California are $25, and subsequent offenses are $50 or more.
- Colorado: First-time offenses in Colorado are $50, and subsequent offenses are $100.
- Connecticut: A maximum penalty of $125 applies for anyone using electronic devices while driving.
- Delaware: First-time offenses are $50 in Delaware.
- Florida: Distracted driving carries a penalty of $30 in Florida. Additionally, police can charge you with distracted driving if you commit a secondary violation.
- Georgia: The penalty for distracted driving in Georgia is a maximum of $150 as well as one point added to your record.
- Hawaii: The first offense for distracted driving will cost $297 in this state.
- Idaho: The maximum penalty for texting while driving is $85.
- Illinois: You will be responsible for paying up to $75 in fines.
- Indiana: First-time offenses can cost $500 or more.
- Iowa: Using a cell phone will incur $30 in penalties. However, in the event that you cause an accident due to being distracted, you will be charged $1000 or more.
- Kansas: The maximum penalty for distracted driving is $60.
- Kentucky: Residents of Kentucky will have to pay up to $25 for first-time offenses.
- Louisiana: Distracted driving is taken quite seriously in the state of Louisiana. First-time offenders will be responsible for paying a minimum penalty of $175.
- Maine: The maximum distracted driving fine in this state is $100.
- Maryland: Like Maine, in Maryland, distracted driving carries a fine of up to $100.
- Massachusetts: First-time offenses receive a maximum penalty of $100; however, second offenses incur penalties of $250 or more.
- Michigan: Up to $100 in fines for first-time offenses.
- Minnesota: Minnesota has recently increased its fines. First offenders will be charged $225 in penalties.
- Mississippi: Similar to most other states, Mississippi has a maximum penalty of $100.
- Missouri: Any distracted driving laws are only applicable to drivers under 21 or if you have a commercial license. If caught, you will have to pay up to $200 in fines.
- Montana: There are currently no laws in place for texting and driving in Montana.
- Nebraska: First-time offenders will have a penalty of $200 and three points added to your driving record.
- Nevada: For your first offense, you’ll be responsible for up to $50 in fines. These fines increase if you are caught a second or third time.
- New Hampshire: $100 is the maximum penalty in New Hampshire.
- New Jersey: First-time offenders face penalties as high as $400.
- New Mexico: There is a full ban on texting and driving in New Mexico. Your first offense will cost a minimum of $25.
- New York: First offenses carry a penalty of $200.
- North Carolina: You’ll have to pay up to $100 for distracted driving.
- Ohio: Drivers under the age of 18 will have to pay up to $150 in fines. Additionally, your license will be suspended for up to six months.
- Oklahoma: Similar to Ohio, drivers in Oklahoma face having their license suspended as well as up to $100 in fines.
- Oregon: The maximum fine for distracted driving is $500 for your first offense.
- Pennsylvania: $50 is the amount you’ll be responsible for, though this is only for first-time offenders.
- Rhode Island: A maximum penalty of $85 is implemented in Rhode Island.
- South Carolina: The anti-texting laws in South Carolina carry a maximum fine of $25.
- South Dakota: For your first offense, you’ll have to pay up to $100 in fees.
- Tennessee: For distracted driving, you’ll be charged up to $10 in court fees as well as a fine of $50.
- Texas: There aren’t statewide laws against distracted driving. However, you should check your local laws and regulations.
- Utah: If you violate the anti-text law in Utah, you face up to $750 in fines as well as potential time in jail.
- Vermont: First-time offenders will have to pay up to $100 and an increase for subsequent citations.
- Virginia: Distracted driving is a secondary offense. This means you have to be charged with another traffic violation for it to be taken into account.
- Washington: The maximum penalty for driving distracted in Washington is $124.
- West Virginia: First-time offenders have to pay up to $100.
- Wisconsin: $400 is the total amount you are responsible for.
- Wyoming: Drivers will have to pay up to $75 for first-time offenses.
With the help of this preventing distracted driving handbook, you’ll know all of the best tips to prevent accidents. Not only do you want to make sure that you’re protected, but you also need to protect other people on the road.
Averting your eyes for even a second could result in an incredibly dangerous accident where lives are lost. No one deserves to be gravely injured because of your irresponsibility, and you certainly won’t want to live with that on your conscience.
Worried about the distracted driver in your car? Make sure to purchase thorough auto insurance coverage.