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Many dangerous driving distractions don't involve cellphones

The dangers of using cellphones while driving have been well documented, and most states have laws against using hand-held devices while driving. Maybe that's part of the reason why just 14% of all distracted driving fatalities involve cellphones. So, what kind of distractions make up that remaining 86%?

You might be surprised. Many of them are things that many drivers do all the time. If you're preparing to take your family on a road trip for spring break, and there will be kids, pets, snacks and other distractions in the vehicle, you may find yourself dealing with multiple distractions at once if you don't make a concerted effort to minimize them.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common driving distractions (besides cellphones) include:

  • Talking to or interacting with passengers
  • Holding something besides a phone (such as a pet)
  • Eating
  • Smoking
  • Adjusting the radio or temperature
  • Singing/dancing

Of course, you can't expect your spouse and children to sit in silence for hours in the car. However, there are things you can do to keep distractions from endangering your safety. For example:

Pull over if you need to. If your kids are fighting over which movie to watch next or you find yourselves in a debate over where to stop for lunch, pull over and deal with it.

Let your passengers deal with nondriving tasks. Have your front seat passenger be in charge things like changing your GPS programming, switching to a different radio station or answering an incoming call or message on your hands-free device or in-vehicle technology.

Keep your pets restrained. It's safer for them and for everyone else in the vehicle. There are plenty of dog seats on the market with harnesses that keep dogs secure, yet comfortable. You should never let your dog sit on your lap while you're driving. In some states, you could even be ticketed.

By minimizing distractions, you're better able to react to unexpected moves by other drivers as well as road hazards. If you or a loved one is injured by a negligent or reckless driver, it's essential to get the compensation you need and deserve to deal with medical bills, physical therapy and other expenses as well as damages.

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