Young adults and teens have a habit of driving distractedly. In fact, The Zebra conducted a survey and found that “38% of respondents (aged 18–24) admitted to texting while driving.” For some reason, many people know internally that texting and driving is a dangerous act, but they continue to do it anyway because that fatal car crash won’t happen to them—at least, that’s what they think at the moment.
However, texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, as it combines all three of the different forms of distraction. Cognitive, manual, and visual distractions are all major components of unsafe driving. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and others on the road and follow these tips to avoid distracted driving. We get it; college is stressful, and sometimes you need to text your mom and vent—but hold off until you’re out of the car.
Adjust Before You Drive
You probably learned this in driver’s education, and now that you’re older, you may have forgotten. But when your instructor told you to check your mirrors, buckle your seatbelt, and take care of anything else before you drive, they weren’t joking. Making any adjustments to your GPS, music, and mirrors should be done before you actually hit the road. When you do it during, you’re putting yourselves and others in harm’s way.
Limit the Number of Passengers
Having too many passengers in the car as you drive can be quite dangerous, as it’s sometimes a cognitive, visual, and manual distraction. You want to try your best to limit the number of passengers in the car to stay safe. If you know you get distracted when you have more than one other passenger in the car, make it known. It’s not silly—it’s safe, and the sooner you ensure you’re comfortable during your drive, the safer everyone will be.
Be a Proactive Driver
There’s a big difference between a proactive and a reactive driver. A reactive driver is a distracted driver—it’s like you’re driving out of the corner of your eye, not focusing on the road, swerving out of harm’s way because you didn’t see it coming. A proactive driver, on the other hand, is someone who constantly keeps an eye on the road and sees potential problems before they occur. Strive to know your next move and when to avoid other distracted drivers.
Leave Your Phone Alone
Our biggest tip for avoiding distracted driving is to simply put your phone away. Leave your phone in the glove compartment, in your bag—just keep it away from temptation. You may feel tempted to hold your phone in your hand or use it if you’re just driving a short distance across campus. But these short distances are often the most dangerous, as our awareness is that much lower. Protect yourself and leave your phone alone.
Pull Over if Necessary
If you do really need to call your mom and vent—pull over. If your directions are on the fritz and you don’t know where to go—pull over. There’s not much that’s important enough to steer your eyes away from the road. But if there is, pull over and deal with it, don’t drive and crash because of it.