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4 ways to avoid distractions while driving

Sometimes driving can feel like riding a bike: you just do it without having to think. However, this attitude can easily lead to you not giving your full attention to the road. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as driving while drunk or drowsy. The Governors Highway Safety Association revealed that distracted driving was responsible for at least 10 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2014.

Such fatalities are easy to prevent. Start with these four ways to reduce distractions.

1. Prepare your car before driving.

If you share a car, you may have to adjust the seats, mirrors and controls. Do this before you begin driving, remembering music and temperature as well. When driving to new locations, program your GPS before leaving. It's smart to review the directions so you have a general sense of where you need to go. If you need to make changes to your route, have a passenger help or pull over if you're alone.

2. Put down your phone.

According to the GHSA, the two most common causes of distraction are using a cellphone and texting. Wisconsin law states that only sending texts is illegal, except for teenagers, who can't use phones behind the wheel at all. Still, all phone use should wait when you're on the road. Avoid temptation by putting your phone on silent and keeping it out of sight. If there's an emergency, pull over to make or answer a call or to read or reply to a text message.

3. Keep your hands free.

The safest driving occurs with your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road. Activities such as eating, drinking and putting on makeup take your hands and eyes away from where they need to be. Reaching for fallen objects is also extremely dangerous. Wait until you are parked to retrieve items, or pull over if it's important.

4. Handle emotions off the road.

It's easy to get distracted by rowdy children or have heated discussions with passengers. Pull over to deal with fighting kids and avoid talking about topics that rile up emotions. Not only are these situations distracting, but a crying child may also impair vision, and anger can lead to aggressive driving.

Following these four guidelines will help prevent you from causing an accident. It won't guarantee another driver isn't distracted, though. If you get into a crash with a distracted driver, contact a collision lawyer to assist you in holding the other party responsible for any damage or personal injury.

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