Use Cell Phones Safely When Driving

Driving can be hard enough even when you concentrate fully on the road. But driving while using a cell phone can be distracting and even dangerous. Cell phones may be convenient, but if not used right, drivers with phones put themselves at risk as well as others.

There has been a tremendous increase in the number of people using cell phones while driving in recent years. According to government statistics, at any given time over 1,000,000 vehicles on the road are being driven by someone using a cell phone. The popularity of cell phones has brought with it a need for more emphasis on safe driving practices. Studies have shown that using a cell phone significantly increases the chance of an accident. One study showed that a driver using a cell phone is four times as likely to be in an accident than a driver not using a cell phone.

Here are tips for using a cell phone safely:

• Buy a phone that’s easy to use. Many safety experts recommend a hands-free phone (some areas now prohibit drivers from using hand-held phones).

• Learn your phone’s features and how to use them. Most phones have valuable safety features like automatic redial and memory dial for often called numbers. These can reduce distractions while driving, since you have to push fewer buttons to make a call. Read the phone’s instruction manual to learn all the phone’s features and the right way to use them.

• Position your phone so it’s easy to see and reach. It should be in a place where you can grab it without taking your eyes off the road.

• Assess traffic before making or taking calls. Remember that safety is your top priority. If traffic is heavy or weather is bad, don’t make calls and let voice mail answer your calls.

• Never take notes while driving. If you are talking to someone and need to write something down, pull over to the side.

• Use voice mail to take calls when it is inconvenient or unsafe for you to do so.

• Be a “good samaritan.” It is usually free to call 911 for cell phone users. If you see a problem on the road like an accident or drunk driver, report it. But be sure to make the call only when it is safe to do so.

• Don’t have stressful or emotional conversation while driving. Certain types of conversations, such as an argument with a loved one, can raise your stress level and be more distracting. This can take your attention off the road. So try to avoid conversations that are likely to cause you great stress and take your mind off the main task at hand, which is reaching your destination safely.

• Dial numbers only when the vehicle is stopped. This is the safest time to call.

• Drive in slower lanes. This will help in case you need to pull over to finish the call.

The safest thing is to not talk on the phone while driving. But if you must do so, call only when it is safe, keep your attention on the road, and end the call promptly if there is a change in traffic conditions or weather.

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