Distracted Driving: Keep Your Mouth Closed to Avoid Two Big Distractions

Talking and Eating are Big Driving Distractions

Jan 11, 2010, 16:24 ET from Foremost Insurance Group

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Distracted drivers are more likely to be talking with their passengers, having a snack, reaching for a soda can or coffee cup, trying to read and drive or trying to grab something that's sliding off the seat than they are to be talking on their cell phone, according to a University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center study.

The study, which rated the top 10 driver distractions, found that looking at things outside the car is the number one distraction for most drivers. Also ranking high among distractions is adjusting the radio or changing a CD.

Interacting with passengers also ranks high on the list of distractions especially with young passengers. Infants, children and teenagers all distract the driver. Research indicates that infants are eight times more distracting than adult passengers, children four times as distracting. Energetic teenagers are also distracting -- and can be even more distracting to another teen who's an inexperienced driver.

Basically distractions fall into two categories: physical and mental. Some distractions are a combination of the two. Any of them can be deadly.

Physical distractions lead you to take your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. That could be unwrapping a hamburger, chasing down the last French fry in your bag or trying to keep your drink from spilling. The result is that you're not concentrating on the road and if you had to respond to an emergency you'd have diminished control over your vehicle and you couldn't react as quickly as a driver who's not distracted.

Mental distractions like rehashing a fight with your spouse, practicing a presentation you need to make at work or getting into a discussion with a passenger all take your mind off your main focus - driving.

Combinations of physical and mental distractions are as simple - and as distracting - as changing a CD. You have to get the right one out, make sure you put it in correctly, put it in the right slot and press play. All simple tasks but you're already multi tasking when you drive. Adding more can be a recipe for disaster. You simply can't put a car on auto pilot.

Despite the fact that driver inattention is a contributing factor in over 50 percent of all crashes, most people continue to blend other tasks with the task of driving. To be a safer driver be sure you're not one of the many who are doing this. Here are some habits to get into to assure that you won't be distracted on the road.

  • Set your seat position before you turn the key.
  • If you need to adjust the heating or cooling system do it when you start your trip or pull over.
  • Choose your favorite radio station before you start out or load a number of CDs into a changer so that you don't need to put in a new one once you're on the road.
  • Stop and get a meal off the road. You'll be able to relax and enjoy your food more if you take a little time off to actually taste it. If you absolutely have to eat on the road, make sure it's not messy.
  • Plan your route ahead or set your GPS unit before you leave and let it direct you.
  • If something tips or starts to slide off the seat, let it go. Better to do a little clean up in the car than to hit the car in front of you.
  • Pull over and take care of the kids if they need something. You want them to be safe and you also want to set an example of responsible driving.

When you focus on traveling safely you'll be amazed how much more you'll enjoy the trip.

Foremost Insurance wants to help you travel safely and get the most out of your driving experiences whether it's a trip to the grocery store or a trip across the country. For more information about Foremost auto insurance programs visit our Web site at www.Foremost.com.

Foremost Insurance Group is a single source for personal property and casualty and commercial insurance. A member of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies®, Foremost has been a leader in the insurance industry since 1952. Foremost is headquartered in Caledonia, Michigan. To learn more, visit Foremost.com.

SOURCE Foremost Insurance Group