Managing driving distractions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Managing driving distractions

 March 2, 2006

Albany -- If you don't pay attention when you're behind the wheel of a car... your chances of having a wreck go way up. The government estimates half of all crashes are caused by distracted drivers.

AAA just launched a new safety campaign to reduce distracted driving. Some people say using gadgets... like talking on your cell phone while you drive... can lead to trouble. Others say technology can protect you.

Nancy Anson takes each drive in her car very seriously. She even teaches people to become better drivers.

"Anything that distracts you from giving it 100% of driving is a distraction and you shouldn't do it."

Those distractions include cell phones, radios, and even television screens mounted in a car. Her best advice is to keep things to a minimum. 

"I usually listen to soft music, relaxing soft music. But nothing that would distract from my driving because driving usually takes a lot of concentration."

But over on the other side of town, David Wilson sells these tech toys that some say distract drivers. He says if used correctly they can actually serve as safety features.

"All the mobile video is either mounted in the back of the headrest or in the center back behind the driver's view. That's the proper way to do it."

That helps him because he has small children. Instead of talking to them while driving, they watch tv. David also says having an in-dash screen helps because it eliminates the need for an old-fashioned paper map that can block a driver's view. 

"You're supposed to check your rearview mirror every three to five seconds and looking ahead. If you're watching TV how are you supposed to do that?" Nancy Anson will continue to teach others proper driving habits.

"It's very very serious. It's a cause of many many accidents and collisions and collisions and hurt people, kill people."

No matter what the distractions may be, Anson warns people to keep their focus on the roads.

AAA's Stay Focused campaign cites three types of distractions. Physical distractions include talking on a cell phone or tuning the radio. Intellectual includes stress and worries. The most dangerous may be a combination of both.

Here are some tips from AAA to minimize distractions and keep you safe:

Get to know your car.

Know where all of the switches and knobs are so you don't have to hunt for them when you need them.

Let it Ring. If someone calls while you're behind the wheel... don't answer. You can always call them back.

Know your route. Check out the map before you hit the road.

And don't eat... drink... or smoke.

If you're doing any of those things... the road ahead obviously  isn't the only thing you're thinking about.

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