Cellphone distractions account for approximately one in four car accidents in the United States. However, it doesn't have to be this way since there are precautions you can take to avoid cellphone distractions. Here are five precautions that can help:
Leave the Phone in the Bag
If you are one of those people whose hands constantly "itch" for their phones, leave your phone in the bag. You won't be tempted to text, call or go online with your phone if the gadget is out of reach. Slipping it in your pocket or having it anywhere in the dashboard will make it easily accessible.
Let a Passenger Help You
If you have a passenger, ask them to help you send or receive important messages on your phone. For example, if you are running late for a meeting, you can dictate the message to the passenger and let them send it on your behalf. If it is an important incoming call, and you don't want to ignore it, the passenger can receive the message on your behalf. In short, do everything possible to avoid handling the phone while driving.
Put the Phone in Silent Mode
If you are alone in the car, put the phone in silent mode so you won't hear and reach for a call or notification. This is especially helpful if you are one of those people who can't ignore a smartphone notification even if they are extremely busy with other things. Of course, this only works if you are disciplined enough not to make calls either.
Leave a Recorded Message
If you don't want people to assume you are ignoring them, leave a recorded message informing them you are driving and can't get to the phone. There are also companies that sell this service; you just sign up for a package, and they will notify your contacts whenever you are busy and can't get to the phone.
Program the GPS before Driving
It's not just the calls and texts you have to worry about; even using your phone's GPS functions while driving can lead to distraction. Therefore, if you are using your phone's GPS to locate a destination, program and map it out before driving. Use the voice function to give you spoken turn-by-turn navigation directions so you don't have to look at the map to know your route.
Hopefully, the above precautions will help you avoid causing an accident due to phone distractions. If you do get involved in an accident, don't mention your cellphone use to the other driver. Such a statement may be interpreted (rightly or wrongly) as an admission of guilt, which will work against you when processing your claim or defending yourself against the other motorist's accusations.
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