Despite safety warnings, new research suggests the number of drivers handling phones has increased in the past four years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 3,166 fatalities on U.S. roads in 2017 were linked to driver distration–about 8.5 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths.
Willpower alone simply isn’t enough to overcome this dangerous urge. Here are some basic safety tips for drivers from Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Report’s Auto Test Center:
- To state the obvious: Avoid using your phone while you’re driving.
- If you’re going to use it, program music or navigation information into your phone before you start driving.
- Stow your phone where you can’t see it or get at it during your trip. Even the flash of an incoming text can be distracting.
- Make use of “do not disturb” features in your phone if you have them.
- Make use of the systems that are already built into your car.
- Bluetooth (whether built in to the car, or an aftermarket device) can route a call through your audio system, so you don’t have to hold the phone. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can mimic familiar phone functionality on a vehicle’s screen.
- If you’re using your phone as a navigation tool—or using its speakerphone function—consider using a phone mount to position it at eye level and keep it out of your hands, treating it as its own touch screen.
- Enlist your passengers to help. Ask them to answer texts, change the audio settings, or work the navigation system when needed.