Give driving your undivided attention, and keep those adolescent eyes on the road. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and while multitasking and short attention spans are common among college students, when it comes to driving, it might be time to stow away those traits.

Distraction.gov describes distracted driving as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. And you know what happens when people don’t pay attention on the road? They get into accidents.

According to The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2014, Florida had 344,170 traffic crashes, and 68, 815 of those involved in the accidents were between ages 20 and 24.

If that doesn’t scare you, then maybe the fact that almost 16 percent of those accidents were fatal, which is the highest percentage of accident-related deaths in the state. Still not scared? Well, according to distraction.gov, drivers in their 20s make up 38 percent of distracted drivers who were using their cell phones in fatal crashes.

That means that 38 percent of those people died because of a text, tweet or notification. This leads to the first and most obvious tip to avoid being a distracted driver:

Stay off your phone

We’ve all heard it a million times. Your parents have told you, that one overbearing friend has told you, and, if you’re unfortunate enough, even a police officer has told you to not text and drive. It’s the biggest “no-no” when driving, but, for some reason, it still happens. You probably think that you’re different from that moron who was sending a text and ended up rear-ending someone, but you’re not.

Once you decide to pick up that phone and type a message while driving, you start playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette. According to the National Safety Council, sending texts, emails or updating social media are all actions that increase the risk of a crash. This crash risk doesn’t only involve you; it also involves everyone else who’s driving on the road with you. So, if securing your life isn’t enough incentive to stay off your phone, then maybe sparing the person driving in front you is.

Here are a few things that you can do to prevent yourself from texting and driving:

  • Put your phone in your purse or knapsack, and then place it on the back seat.
  • Silence your phone while driving because notifications are distracting.
  • Check all social media accounts and messages before you get into the car.
  • Send out a text telling everyone that you’ll be driving so you won’t be able to respond.

Delicious distractions

The car might seem like the perfect place to munch on a snack and drink your latte, but the truth is eating and drinking while driving can limit your attention span.

According to drivesafely.net, there are certain foods that you should never eat while driving because they are deliciously distracting. Foods like chocolates, soft drinks, jelly- or cream-filled donuts, fried chicken, barbequed foods, hamburgers, chili, tacos, hot soups and coffee, yes coffee, can distract you from driving. Coffee even causes more accidents than any other food item, according to drivesafely.net.

These foods are distracting because they can cause messes, which lead to you being flustered and taking your eyes off the road. So prevent messes and consequent distractions by not eating/drinking and driving.

Don’t makeup and drive

According to the youthforroadsafety.org, there is a new campaign called “Please Don’t Make-up and Drive” that brings awareness to females who use rear-view mirrors as make-up booths and have normalized the idea of getting ready in the car. But just because it seems normal doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.

Putting on make-up and driving is a visual, physical and cognitive distraction that can cause accidents. If you’re running late and didn’t get time to finish your makeup, then wait until you’ve arrived at your destination or just forget about the makeup. No one wants to have “Died while trying to perfect her eyeliner,” inscribed on their tombstone, so please don’t makeup and drive.

Take the pledge

On distraction.gov, there is a pledge that you can take to join the fight against distracted driving. It’s really simple and states that:

  • You will protect lives by never texting or talking on the phone while driving.
  • You will try to be a good passenger and speak out against the distracted driver.
  • You will encourage friends and family to drive phone-free.

Have your friends and family join the movement by signing the pledge ― it’s free and helps you to get involved.

It takes practice and commitment to not be a distracted driver in today’s society, but the benefits of keeping your eyes on road outweigh any text, food or the urge to perfect that winged liner. So do yourself a favor, keep your insurance down, and be an attentive driver.

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