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September 29, 2009

Can You Commit To Distraction-Free Driving For A Week?


Busy women are best known for their multi-tasking skills. How else could we get so much done every day?  Between home and work, kids and their school schedules, groceries and meals -- you name it -- we have more to juggle than ever before. Unfortunately, a lot of this multi-tasking gets handled while we're in our cars... while we're driving to work, driving kids to school, driving to the grocery store... you know what I mean, right?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and AAA are concerned about your safety on the road, and for one week they are asking drivers to put away their distractions and focus only on driving. During its inaugural "Heads Up Driving Week," AAA is urging us all to drive distraction-free for the week of October 5 - 11 and has introduced the slogan: Try it for a week, do it for life.

According to AAA, being distracted behind the wheel  for even just a few seconds greatly increases your chance of a crash. In fact, distracted driving contributes to a million crashes in North America each year -- up to 8,000 crashes every single day! These accidents often result in serious injuries and create an economic impact of nearly $40 billion per year.

A majority of drivers (80% !!!) say distracted driving is a serious threat to their safety, according to the AAA Foundation's 2009 Traffic Safety Culture Index, yet two-thirds of drivers reported talking on the cell phone while driving. Dealing with passengers is one of the most frequently reported causes of distraction: Young children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers, and infants are eight times more distracting!

I live in a handsfree and textfree state, so at least I've eliminated a few distractions from my behind-the-wheel routine, but AAA says multi-tasking while driving must be reduced if we are going to stop crashes and fatalities caused by distracted drivers. "The new technologies that help us multitask in our everyday lives and increasingly popular social media sites present a hard-to-resist challenge to the typically safe driver," said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.

You can help by committing to be a distraction-free driver during next week's inaugural "Heads Up Driving Week," October 5-11, 2009. Below are 10 quick and easy ways AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests to minimize distractions to keep yourself and all of us safer on the roads.

  1. PLAN AHEAD.  Read maps and check traffic conditions before you get on the road.
  2. STOW ELECTRONIC DEVICES.  Turn off your phone before you drive so you won't be tempted to use it while on the road. Pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone or to send and receive text messages or emails.
  3. PREPARE KIDS AND PETS FOR THE TRIP.  Get the kids safely buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving. If they need additional attention during the trip, pull off the road safely to care for them.  Similarly, prepare and secure pets in your vehicle before getting underway.
  4. SATISFY THAT CRAVING OFF THE ROAD.  Eat meals and snacks before getting behind the wheel, or stop to eat and take a break if driving long-distance.
  5. STORE LOOSE GEAR AND POSSESSIONS.  Stash loose objects that could roll around and take your attention away from driving.
  6. GET YOUR VEHICLE ROAD-READY.  Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems, and other devices before you leave or while your vehicle is stopped. Keep your windshield clean and remove dangling objects that could block your view.
  7. DRESS FOR SUCCESS - BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR.  Your car isn't a dressing room.  Brush your hair and put on your makeup before you leave or once you reach your destination.
  8. GET YOUR BRAIN IN THE GAME.  Focus on driving safely. Scan the road, use mirrors, and practice identifying orally what you just saw to enhance your engagement as a driver. To help you, AAA offers classroom and online defensive driving courses that directly address distracted driving and offer tips for maintaining attention while driving.
  9. EVALUATE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR FROM THE 'OTHER' SIDE OF THE ROAD.  When you're not driving, take a look around and evaluate whether you engage in poor driving behaviors that worry you when you see other passengers or pedestrians doing them.
  10. USE NEW TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE YOU A BETTER DRIVER.  Sharpen your ability to respond quickly to risks on the road. The AAA Foundation recommends all drivers improve their reaction times and better manage attention on the road by using DriveSharp,   a computer program proven to improve reaction time and stopping distances. With quicker responses, you can better avoid the distracted driver who might end up in your lane.
Make your commitment to drive distraction free by leaving a comment here. Can you name one bad habit you will avoid next week to help be a safer driver?

Creative commons images courtesy of alvimann at and miss_pupik at

Jody-devere_president_askpatty Jody DeVere
President and CEO

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