While we don’t recommend using your cell phone while driving, as it’s a large cause of distracted driving, sometimes it can be unavoidable. Luckily, there are some cell phone measures that you can follow to make sure you’re staying safe while using your phone.
To start, before you get behind the wheel, know the cell phone usage laws in your state or local area. Fourteen states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving, and many others ban text messaging or cell phone usage entirely for teen or novice drivers. By being aware of the laws and regulations in your local area, you’re keeping yourself safe (those laws are in place for a reason!) and avoiding hefty fines. The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a chart that outlines cell phone use laws by state.
How can you maintain cell phone safety while driving? Here is a list of tips:
• Position your cell phone within easy reach. Make sure you can grab it without taking your eyes off the road. Even if you receive a phone call while driving in harsh road conditions, it might be best to let the call to voicemail.
• Set your cell phone to driving mode. Many smartphones now have the capability of being turned to driving mode when you get behind the wheel. With this setting, any incoming text messages will be automatically replied to informing that person that you are driving and will respond at a safe time.
• Don’t take notes or conduct research while driving. There may be a moment where something pops into your head and you want to write it down before you forget. This can take your eyes off the road for a few minutes altogether, and could result in an accident. Similarly, conducting research and browsing maps while the car is in motion can distract your attention away from the road. Let the smartphone GPS system guide you, but don’t conduct further research while driving.
• If possible, place calls while you are stopped. You may be on a highway or freeway and have no chance to stop, but if you’re driving in an area with traffic lights, wait until you hit a red light to check any messages or place any calls. This may seem like a no-brainer, but drivers get tempted to read and respond to messages while they’re in motion, which distracts from the activity of driving.
• Know your phones safety features. Cell phone manufacturers have been working to make their phones safer, so being aware of the specific features offered on your phone is a good idea. Many phones have speed dial, voice commands and other features that can keep your eyes on the road while still being able to dial or answer the phone. Take a few moments to review your cell phone owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with these safety features. And keep in mind that even though you may be using safety features like speed dial or voice commands, it’s always best to dial the phone when you are stopped.
• Do not engage in stressful conversation while driving. Stressful conversations and driving are not a great mix. Driving can be stressful in and of itself, and adding more stress on top of that can become dangerous. If a conversation turns emotional, end the call or alert the person on the other end of the line that you’re driving and can’t discuss that topic or story at the moment.
• Be aware of the weather before reaching for your cell phone. On a clear, sunny day, it may be safer to use your cell phone than on a hazy, foggy or rainy or snowy day. That goes for heavy traffic, too. If the roads are congested with a large number of cars, you should be staying as alert as possible, and that means keeping your attention on the road, not your phone.
• Use your cell phone in emergency situations. Protect yourself or help a fellow driver in case of emergency. Your cell phone is one of the best tools for finding help or calling for assistance. If you’re a victim of an accident or you see a car accident, crime, or other instance where lives are in danger, call the authorities.
To wrap up, when in the car, make sure you keep your cell phone within arm’s reach so you’re able to grab it without taking your eyes off the road. However, if possible, using a hands-free device is the best way to use your cell phone while driving. If your car is Bluetooth-enabled, use that method, but you can use many other accessories or even just the speaker function on your phone. Anything that keeps your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel is a great accessory to take advantage of.
Texting or surfing the internet while driving is considered distracted driving, and can be incredibly dangerous, so do your best to avoid those activities when driving. If you must, texting or email response should only be done when you are stopped.
A cell phone is the very best tool to utilize in a dangerous situation such as an accident or emergency, but it can also cause many accidents, so be sure to use it in a safe way. If road debris or a tree branch has fallen and caused a crack or chip in your windshield, use your cell phone and give our technicians at Safelite a call.