Distracted driving behaviors increase the risk of an accident and can also lead to serious injuries. That is why so many states have implemented laws against certain behaviors deemed dangerous behind the wheel. For example, you are not permitted to talk or text on a handheld device while driving in the state of New Jersey. First offenses are punishable by a fine ranging from $200 to $400, while second offenses incur a fine between $400 and $600. Fines for third and subsequent offenses will cost you $600 to $800, as well as a potential 90-day suspension and three points assessed to your license.
While the above penalties are associated with the use of mobile device, there are plenty of other distractions that can prove just as hazardous. Here are a few ways you can avoid all driving distractions for a safe, secure experience behind the wheel.
Keep conversations with passengers brief
When conversing with passengers, your attention is split between driving and the conversation you are having. As a result, your response time may be diminished or you might miss road hazards if you are heavily immersed in what your passenger is saying. Driving distractions can be visual, manual, or cognitive. Visual and manual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road and taking your hands off the wheel, respectively, while cognitive distractions involve taking your mind off the task at hand.
Turn off your phone
Texting or talking on a mobile device while driving combines all three distraction types listed above. To avoid these behaviors, the best course of action is to turn your phone off during your drive. It is hard for many people to ignore alerts and notifications when their phones are left on, especially when waiting for a call or message. If you do not want to turn it off, put it on silent and place it in your bag far out of reach. If you must contact someone while driving, pull over and use your device when it is safe to do so.
Eat breakfast before leaving home
Eating on the go is the norm for many busy people, but not only is eating in your vehicle while driving inconvenient, it can also decrease your driving ability. Much like texting while driving, eating behind the wheel could fall into all three distraction categories. If necessary, wake up early enough to have breakfast at home. And if you must stop for food, eat your meal in the restaurant or in your vehicle while you are safely parked.