image of a person texting while driving — causes of distracted drivingCars are made to be driven. That means when they’re not tucked away at a JP Logistics storage facility or being shipped across the country, they’re rolling down the road, rubber to asphalt.

As drivers, it is each of our responsibilities to maintain control of our vehicles at all times. A failure to do so could result in injuring ourselves, fellow drivers or innocent pedestrians. As a result, it is imperative you stay alert and vigilant to these five common causes of distracted driving.

Common Causes of Distracted Driving

1. Smartphone / Cellphone Usage

You may have heard that texting while driving is bad (in fact, if you live in any of these states, including California, it’s even illegal). But did you know that all types of cellphone activity, whether you are texting, talking or even using a navigation app, takes your attention from the road and puts it elsewhere?  Thus, it is wise to pull your car to the side of the road if you must use your phone in your vehicle at any time.

2. Talking to Passengers

Who likes to drive alone? Okay…who likes to drive alone all the time? Driving with friends or coworkers isn’t only efficient; it can also be fun! The state of California even features lanes built for “high occupancy vehicles,” more commonly know as carpool lanes. Unfortunately, even friendly conversation among passengers can lead to the driver’s inattention from the road. To combat this, all passengers should speak at normal, comfortable volumes so that the driver can focus on the lane ahead.

3. Listening to Music

There’s nothing quite like driving with the windows (or top) down and soaking up some California sun while jamming to your favorite song, right? No, there really isn’t. And while the perfect tunes can invoke vivid memories, sensations and emotions, these same warm feelings can cause the driver’s mind to wander away from the actual act of driving. To keep your mind fresh and alert, play your music at a low volume or turn it off entirely; a fond memory isn’t worth having an accident.

4. Eating Behind the Wheel

While a rumbling stomach can be enough to minimize your sharp driving skills, eating while driving can be even more dangerous. When you take one of your hands off the wheel to hold an item of food, you increase your chances of having an accident exponentially. In fact, studies confirm that 65 percent of near-miss collisions occur due to food-related incidents. So the next time you get behind the wheel, make sure you’ve had a snack first.

5. Grooming

While it may not be the most common offense drivers commit behind the wheel, a select group of morning commuters take this valuable travel time to fix their hair, put on makeup or even shave. Not only does this act remove the driver’s hands from the wheel, it typically takes his/her eyes off of the road, as well. Considering that these drivers inevitably become more engaged with how they look than the way they drive, it’s a mystery that these circumstances don’t cause more accidents each year.

Reduce the Causes of Distracted Driving

The key to keeping yourself, your car and those around you safe is to always be alert to your environment. Eliminate as many distractions as possible; keep your phone in your pocket, turn your music down and have a full belly when you buckle in.

Whatever your distraction crutch may be, remember the reason you drive in the first place: for the love of the open road. Keep that road safe by enforcing responsible behavior.

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