Updated 04/12/2012 05:00 AM
The Car Coach: Avoid distracted driving
Multi-tasking behind the wheel is a dangerous choice. Lauren Fix, the Car Coach, can help you prevent distracted driving.
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Multi-tasking behind the wheel is not the smartest choice. It’s important that we do our part to prevent distracted driving.
Auto technology is undergoing dramatic changes. While flying cars and plasma drives are still a bit further down the road, the way we interact with our vehicles today is radically different from what it used to be.
With all these changes and improvements come countless dangers -- notably, the danger of distracted driving. Once upon a time, the biggest preoccupations for drivers involved keeping the kids quiet in the back seat or finding the right button on the 8-track player. Now we have phone calls, text messages, GPS devices, emails, and apps to juggle.
Automakers are trying to develop technology to address such concerns, while simultaneously acknowledging that mobile phones are a part of modern life.
Here are some distractions ALL drivers should be aware of:
1. Your cell phone: Turn it off? Fat chance. If you must keep your phone on, use a hands-free device or the BlueTooth option built into many newer vehicles. Use voice activation if your vehicle is equipped with it or, even better, pull over and make that phone call that couldn’t wait.
2. Talking to and interacting with passengers: If you are having a casual conversation in the car, keep your eyes on the road and not on the person you are chatting with.
3. Reaching for CDs, food, falling objects or other distractions: It’s easy to worry about countless distractions and forget that you’re driving a 4,000 lb machine. If you spill, drop something, or need to connect your iPod, pull over and take care of it in a parking lot.
4. Programming radio stations or tinkering with dashboard controls: Don’t be fooled. This is just as serious a distraction as anything else. Try to be patient or pull over to make these adjustments. Get to where you’re going safely.
5. Using an electric razor, applying makeup and other personal hygiene routines
6. Eating, opening a canned drink or digging for snacks behind the wheel
7. External distractions such as funny billboards or pedestrians
As you can see, there's no perfect solution to the problem of distracted driving – not yet, anyway. For now, the best we can do is to be aware of the dangers and to exert some self-control by putting our phones, tablets, and other distractions away.