Ditch the Distraction When on the Road

People do all sorts of odd things while driving. They brush their teeth, change their clothes and even lunge for Kitty as he escapes from the cat carrier. They may also be texting and talking on the phone—all of which are dangerous distractions.

Distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes off the road, one or both hands off the wheel and/or your mind off getting safely from one place to another in your car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014, 3,179 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. An estimated 431,000 more people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Here are five key tips for avoiding distracted driving (as adapted from the Automobile Association of America):

1. Stow your stuff. Anything that can roll or fly around in the car when you’re driving. That way you won’t be tempted to reach for anything on the floor or seat.

2. Make adjustments before you start out. Set your GPS, seats, mirrors, AC or heat and sound systems before hitting the road. Plan your route and check traffic ahead of time.

3. Dress and groom at home. No shaving, applying lipstick, hair brushing or combing, doing your nails, etc., while driving.

4. Snack smart. Eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not behind the wheel. On the road, skip messy, difficult-to-manage foods.

5. No e-distractions. While driving, don’t use your mobile phone—handheld or hands-free. And, no text messaging, emailing, video watching, video game playing or internet searching (even using your car’s built-in system).

More information about staying safe on the road is available in the “Driver Safety & Education” section of GuidanceResources Online®, the Member Assistance Program’s website. Search for the “Distracted Driving” podcast. To get started visit