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Driving Distracted - Defensive Driving We've all seen them behind the wheel: The teen with a car full of friends blasting his car stereo . . . or the mother refereeing a back seat battle between her kids . . or the businessman talking on his phone and taking notes . . . or the commuter putting on makeup or reading the sports page.

Driver distraction is a major contributor to traffic accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 25% of police-reported crashes involve some form of driver inattention.

"I only looked away for a second." One has to wonder how many accident reports started with that sentence. Crashes can be caused by seemingly harmless actions, such as tuning the radio. And they are completely avoidable. To curb distractions, cities like New York and Chicago have laws restricting cell phone use while driving. Check your local ordinances to learn if your town has similar anti-distraction laws.

To help avoid unnecessary distraction, try to steer clear of the following actions while driving:
  • Talking on the cell phone
  • Tuning the radio
  • Searching the glove compartment
  • Breaking up fights between your kids
  • Combing or brushing your hair
  • Putting on makeup
  • Using electric razors
  • Reading or writing
  • Putting in contact lenses or eye drops
  • Doing your nails

Children in the car? Bring books, toys or activities such as coloring or puzzle books that they can use to entertain themselves while the driver focuses on the road.

Finally, anything that keeps the driver focused on the task of driving, with eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel, should be encouraged. For more information on minimizing driver distraction, visit
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