When it comes to driving our car, it’s not something we usually think a lot about. We just hop into our cars and drive. It’s second nature. But there is a lot more to driving than meets the eye. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed over 3,477 lives last year. Distracted diving continues to be an extremely dangerous activity. And of course distracted driving means that the driver is substantially failing to pay close attention to their surroundings.

Think for a moment how difficult it is to devote all your attention to the road and others if you are otherwise distracted. This goes beyond just the use of mobile phones, to include activities such as eating, arguing, adjusting the radio, or dealing with small children in the back seat. To ensure that you are paying attention to your surrounds while driving, try and keep the following tips in mind to help keep your focus where it belongs: on the road – ahead of you, around you, and behind you.

  • Secure Any Loose Items. It is a good idea to secure any loose items before getting behind the wheel. A very common distraction is when something rolls off the seat or is rolling around on the floor of the car. Make sure groceries are tucked away in the trunk of your vehicle. If you have small items, put them in the glove box to secure them.
  • Don’t Groom While Driving. Before you get behind the wheel, get yourself completely dressed and take care of your appearance before setting foot in your car. Driver’s that use their commute to finish their daily routine put themselves and others at serious risk. This is a dangerous practice because it takes your attention away from the road where it belongs. If you need to make grooming corrections, pull over or wait until you arrive at your destination.
  • Check Your Mirrors. We were all taught in drivers education that one of the first things you do when you get behind the wheel of your car is to check your mirrors and adjust them before you put your car in gear. If you share a vehicle with a spouse or other family members, chances are that the mirrors are probably not be in the best position for you to drive your car.
  • Avoid Stressful & Emotional Conversations. To help avoid conversations that can be stressful or that you feel emotional towards, ask your passenger who brings up the subject to wait until you pull over or park the vehicle so you can discuss it. The same thing goes for phone calls while driving, even when the call is on your car speaker system. Stay safe. Stay calm. Stay focused. Get to your destination in one piece.
  • Keep Important Items Close. If you have passengers like children in your car, make sure they have what they need prior to you driving. Trying to fumble to grab something for someone while your are driving is an invitation to disaster, even at slow, city street speeds.

These tips are suggestions to help keep yourself, your passengers, and other drivers and pedestrians safe. It is easy enough to get distracted, but the more we can do to consciously help reduce distractions that could take our attention off the road, the safer it is us and our loved ones.