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Long Haul Tips for Cell Phone Addicted Drivers

Posted on in Personal Injury

Today's drivers are used to being hooked-up and habitually connected to friends and family, either by cell-phone or some other electronic device. Being wired is comforting. It makes us feel secure and wards off loneliness. It allows us to share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences instantly--as they're happening. For the most part, this is pretty harmless, but if you're behind the wheel, being connected can be disastrous.

Some jobs or occupations require long commutes or numerous hours spent on the road. Perhaps you're headed off to an out-of-state college or traveling alone for some other reason. Regardless of the reasons, or length of the drive, you should avoid cell phone use when you're behind the wheel. Texting or using your cell phone while driving is always a bad idea but it's also illegal in many states.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association:

  • 14 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws, meaning an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. Currently, 44 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 5 have primary enforcement. Of the 6 states without an all driver texting ban: 4 prohibit text messaging by novice drivers, and 3 restrict school bus drivers from texting.

You should also avoid using headphones while driving. Impaired hearing reduces your level of alertness. If you can't hear, it may take you longer to realize that an emergency vehicle is approaching, or that someone is warning you of a dangerous situation--by honking their horn. In 33 states wearing headphones while driving is legal, while 13 states have customized laws on the legality of wearing headphones and four states have outlawed it unequivocally. That being noted, it is bad form to wear headphones while driving in all fifty states.

Staying off the phone and not texting might prove difficult for those whose addiction to electronics borders on obsessive. But, there are things you can do to entertain yourself, and still stay focused on driving. Before you take off on a trip make sure all of your favorite stations are selected on the radio, the car's entertainment system, or whatever listening device you'll be using. A private sing-along is entertaining and morale boosting. Include a couple of talk radio stations in your selections. Listening to callers voice opinions on everything from gun control to parenting can be entertaining and enlightening.

On long stretches of lonely highway, depending on your devises and apps, you can listen to movies (with the screen off) or listen to audio books. You can use the time driving to learn a language, or the basics of a new skill such as customer service. Listening to audio recordings or singing shouldn't be too distracting, but fiddling with buttons and knobs is. Keep your eyes on the road, and if a song comes on that you don't like, just wait it out.

Use rest and meal stops to catch-up on what's happening with friends and family. Take and send photos and messages and get your connectivity “fix.” Anyone who cares about you will appreciate and understand why you don't respond to calls and texts while on the road.

More important than feeling entertained, is to pay attention, stay alert, drive safely and get where you're going without incidents.

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