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Auto Safety: Cell Phones & Driving

Many people in the United States and elsewhere in the world are increasingly relying on cell phones as a form of communication. Due to this increase in cell phone usage, more states are deciding to adopt laws that make it illegal to talk on your phone while you are behind the wheel of a vehicle. While not all states have laws regarding cell phone use while driving, there are still precautions that drivers can take while on the phone that will help to decrease the chances of being involved in an accident.

Hands Free Devices

When it is possible it is a good idea to use a hands free device. There are a number of hands free products and accessories on the market today that are compatible with many different types of phones. The options for hands free devices range from installed mounted devices for your phone to speaker accessories such as bluetooths. Studies have proven however that using a hands free set for your phone does not necessarily reduce the incidence of having an accident.

Make Sure Your Phone Is Within Easy Reach

If you do live in a state that allows you to talk on you phone while driving, you should make sure that your phone is in a convenient, easy to reach spot where you can grab it without having to take your eyes off the road. Even if you are legally allowed to answer your phone while driving, you shouldn't do so at inconvenient times such as when there is heavy traffic.

Hazardous Conditions

If you are already experiencing hazardous conditions on the road such as rain, snow, ice, or sleet you should suspend your call until it is safe to be on the phone. As a driver, your top priority is to pay attention to the road.

Pay Attention To The Road

The majority of cell phones that can be purchased today are considered smart phones which means that along with phone calls you have access to email, the internet and many other features. It is important to not use these features when driving. Don't get yourself caught in a dangerous situation because you are trying to look something up or send a text message on your phone that can wait until later.

Dial Sensibly

If you need to dial a phone number while in the car it is important to do so when you are not moving or before you pull into traffic. Try to plan important calls for times when you know you will not be in the car, and if you need to dial while driving do so very carefully. Make sure to pay attention to the road and only dial one number before checking your mirrors.

Distracting Conversations

Emotional or stressful situations can be very distracting and do not mix with driving. If you feel that the conversation you are having is too emotional and getting out of control, continue it when you are out of the car. Having an emotional conversation while driving can be very dangerous.

Use Your Phone For Help

A cell phone is one of the greatest tools you can have to protect yourself in dangerous situations. In the case of an accident, medical emergency, or road hazard you can use your cell phone to dial 911. Your phone also comes in useful for helping others. If you see an accident, crime, or someone that needs help for any reason you can use your phone to assist them.

Roadside Assistance

Having a phone with you while driving comes in very handy when you encounter a mechanical problem or something else such as a flat tire. Having your phone will enable you to call for roadside assistance for yourself or others that might be broken down on the side of the road.

While some of the above tips will help you be a safer, more alert driver when using your phone, it is important to follow the laws in the state in which you live. If you live in a state that has cell phone driving laws, be sure to know what those laws are and follow them closely. As always, the safest thing to do is not talk on your phone at all when you are behind the wheel.

  • Cell & Texting Laws – A list of charts and tips containing information on cell phone and text messaging laws in different states from the Governors Highway Safety Administration.

  • Cell Phones & Driving – An article from the Insurance Information Institute discussing the dangers of using cell phones while driving.

  • Phones & Driving Don't Mix – An article on Science Daily with information on how talking on a cell phone is distracting.

  • Cell Phone Laws - A table listing the cell phone laws for all states from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
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