Distracted Driving

Drivers who are distracted, or inattentive cause nearly 70% of rear-end crashes on the highway and about 25% of all accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Though it can take almost superhuman effort in today’s round of commuting, shopping, and shuttling the kids, avoiding such distractions can save your life. Here are ways to avoid being a distracted driver:

* Stay off your cell phone while in motion. If you need to make a call, find a place to pull over and stop. Follow the same advice if you need to adjust your GPS settings, read a map, take off your coat, or put on makeup.

* Know the laws in your state. If you can’t always pull over to use the phone, at least make sure you know if your state bans the use of hand-held phones while driving. If hand-held phones are illegal, get a hands-free setup, then use it as little as possible.

* If your car has less-distracting controls, use them. Buttons in the steering wheel that adjust radio tuning and volume can keep you from taking your eyes off the road—once you get used to them.

* Talk to passengers as little as possible. Just as with a cell phone, a live conversation takes your focus off the road. Most of all, try to avoid arguments, or at least postpone them until you can stop.

* Don’t drive with pets unless they are restrained. A survey by auto club AAA finds that 60% of dog owners have been distracted by their pets in the car while driving. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals adds that pets should be restrained in a car for their protection in case of a crash.

* Do talk about distractions with teenagers. Go over the dangers of texting and calling while driving. In an IIHS survey, 37% of drivers ages 18 to 24 said they text while driving at least a few times a month. Find out if your state bans all texting while driving and, if so, point out to your teen that the practice is not only dangerous but illegal.