You may be lucky to have the job you’ve been dreaming about since college. It gives you the freedom to work remotely, but a major downside is that you have to be available around the clock which might mean that you answer e-mails or a text when getting coffee, grabbing a bite to eat, or even that moment when you’re lathered up for a quick shave.
If you’re like thousands of Americans, you probably even glance at your texts or emails while you’re sitting at a stoplight or while stuck in gridlock (what else are you going to do?).
When you’re behind the wheel of your car, either stopped at an intersection or moving at a snail’s pace on the crowded freeway, you shouldn’t be talking on your smartphone or sending texts (despite what other guys your age are doing). Even glancing “quickly” at your phone, without responding to a text, can lead to an accident or even land you a fine depending on where you live.
Whether it’s a text from the head honcho at work or the cute girl from your apartment building, no text is worth an expensive fender bender or a overpriced ticket from a less-than-understanding cop. Wouldn’t you rather spend that few hundred dollars on tickets to a game?
Are You a Distracted Driver?
Even if you have never been in an accident or caught using your cellphone while driving, it doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. Additionally, while younger men, under the age of 25, are two to three times more likely than older men to drive while reading or sending texts and emails, it doesn’t mean that you “wise and mature” men aren’t guilty of using your smartphone while driving.
While texting and driving is one of the major offenders of distracted driving, there are many more seemingly “ok” things you can do behind the wheel that can make you a distracted driver:
Grooming: You got an urgent call to come into the office, but you’ve been working on growing out your beard. Risk running late for a close shave or grab the electric shaver and hit the streets? If you groom, while behind the wheel of the car, you’re engaging in distracted driving; it’s best to plan ahead (beard or not).
GPS: If you use a GPS, congratulations on debunking the myth that men don’t like to ask for directions. While a GPS is designed to help you along the way, it can be distracting. Before you start driving, get a general idea of where you’re going so you don’t need to pay close attention to the GPS directions.
Your Passengers: Whether your girlfriend is insistent on taking a sickeningly sweet couple selfie while you’re running Saturday morning errands or your four-legged friend wants to climb up front and be your co-pilot, your passengers can be a major distraction. You might not get “Boyfriend of the Year” award, but ban selfies while the car is in motion and buckle up your pup (for both of your safety).
Grabbing a Quick Bite to Eat: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 45% of distracted drivers eat or drink while driving (we’re not talking about alcohol, that’s a whole different issue).
With the conveniences of fast food, aren’t you supposed to scarf down that burger in the car? Even if you’ve mastered the art of driving and eating a sandwich, think about that stray fry that fell between the seats. If you look for it, your eyes are off the road and your hand is off the wheel.
So, did you say “yes” to any of the distractions? If so, you’re more likely to be a distracted driver. Can you change your driving habits? Always.
Work on Being a Safer Driver
Without trying to echo the words of your nervous mother when you got behind of the wheel for the first time, be a safe driver.
Although classic icons like Steve McQueen, James Dean, and even Paul Walker famously won over the hearts of many women by being a little “thrilling” behind the wheel, some women may actually find “attentive and calm” driving to be an attractive quality. Give it a try, see what happens.
If you are full-time or even a some of the time distracted driver, eliminate the number one distraction from the front seat of your car. If you can’t resist the ding of your smartphone’s alerts, silence your phone or better yet, turn it off and put it out of reach. If you must check your phone, pull over (legally and safely) and do it at that time.
If the urge is too strong and your willpower isn’t, consider downloading your phone company’s distracted driving app such as AT&T’s DriveMode or Verizon’s Safely Go.
Drive a Vehicle with Safety Features
The more safety features your vehicle has, the less likely you’ll be injured in or even be involved in an accident. Safety features have come along way since your first used car (if you were lucky, it had an airbag).
Two top-notch, must-have safety features include automatic forward collision-avoidance systems and driver attention monitors. If you’re looking to buy or lease a car, these safety features should be at the top of your list.
Got distracted by the Ducati that whizzed past you on the highway? If your car is equipped with a driver attention monitor, you’ll be given a “warning” to get your eyes and attention back on the road. While this safety feature is currently only available in certain luxury cars, it may be a good excuse to lease a Lexus.
Automatic forward collision-avoidance systems are becoming more common thanks to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS refuses to give a vehicle a top safety ranking unless it is equipped with a crash avoidance system, which pushes many car makers to make the safety feature a standardized feature.
Crash avoidance systems assist drivers, who may or may not be distracted, from colliding with the car in front of them by offering a warning and then braking when the warning is ignored.