Many of us rely on our cell phones for all kinds of day to day activities such as  setting alarms, checking emails, staying in touch with friends and family by texting or calling, and using the internet. In many ways, they make our lives more convenient. Unfortunately, cell phones can be a huge distraction for drivers on the road. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use leads to 1.6 million car crashes per year, so April is observed as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this epidemic. Though cell phones make it easy to stay connected, they are a threat to not only your own safety but the safety of others if you use them behind the wheel.

There are three types of distraction while driving: visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Visual distraction causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, manual distractions cause them to take their hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions cause them to take their mind off of their driving. Distracted driving isn’t limited to just cell phone use – using hands free or Bluetooth technology in your vehicle can cause cognitive distraction and lead to accidents. Texting while driving is the most dangerous, as it combines all three kinds of distraction. Other behaviors that can cause distraction include eating, applying makeup, or driving while tired.

Eliminate distractions by following a few simple steps. Keep your cell phone somewhere accessible, but not somewhere where you can see notifications. Keep the phone on silent while driving so you’re not tempted to check it and if you do need to check it, pull into a parking lot or other safe location first. Don’t let your mind wander as you drive and don’t drive while you’re feeling drowsy. Stay hydrated and get enough sleep before you drive – keep a bottle of water with you if necessary, but wait until you’re at a stop light to take a sip.

Take the pledge below to keep yourself and others safe when you’re behind the wheel.

I pledge to drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way – I will not:

  • Make or take phone calls
  • Read or send text messages
  • Update my social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat)
  • Check emails
  • Take selfies
  • Call someone who I know is driving

Sources: National Safety Council, CDC. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.