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Distracted Driving

Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Driving is a visual task and non-driving activities that draw the driver's eyes away from the roadway should always be avoided.

As of July 1, 2010, Michigan law prohibits texting while driving.  For a first offense, motorists are fined $100.  Subsequent offenses cost $200.

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual - taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual - taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive - taking your mind off of what you're doing

Distracting activities include:

  • Using a cell phone and/or texting
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or MP3 player.

Focus on the task at hand - driving:

  • Get familiar with vehicle features and equipment before pulling out into traffic.
  • Preset radio stations, MP3 devices, and climate control.
  • Secure items that may move around when the car is in motion. Do not reach down or behind the seat to pick up items.
  • Do not text, access the Internet, watch videos, play video games, search MP3 devices, or use any other distracting technology while driving.
  • Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, and reading while driving.
  • Pull safely off the road and out of traffic to deal with children.
  • Do personal grooming at home-not in the vehicle.
  • Review maps and driving directions before hitting the road.
  • Monitor traffic conditions before engaging in activities that could divert attention away from driving.
  • Ask a passenger to help with activities that may be distracting.
  • If driving long distances, schedule regular stops, every 100 miles or two hours.
  • Travel at times when you are normally awake and stay overnight rather than driving straight through.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that may make you drowsy.

For more information on distracted driving research and safety information, visit the following Web sites:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
National Safety Council 
Carnegie Mellon 
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute