Please, Not While You’re Driving

Posted August 10, 2011 in Driving & Motor Vehicles by Heather McGowan

Free learning is often best, especially when it comes to driving. But, learning what you can’t do on the road ticket-by-ticket can add up to a tidy tuition bill. A friendly construction zone sign reminded me the other day that hand-held cell phone use will get me a ticket and hefty fine.

  • You aren’t alone if you engage in certain "driving don’ts"
  • Use common sense and traffic laws to keep you on the right side of the road
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Chances are your state, city or town has new laws to combat distracted driving, such as cell phone use and texting, and new ones are passed all the time. Generally, it’s a good thing. Accidents have serious costs, financial and otherwise. Then there are the things we shouldn’t do while driving, whether or not it’s illegal.

Don’t be shy, most drivers will see themselves in this list:

  • Reading. Same goes for writing. Look down or aside for a second, and it’s an accident waiting to happen. Eyes on the road, and not your latest good read or a road map.

  • Any personal grooming. If it fits into this category, just don’t do it. It’s a distraction, it can cause an accident, and if your appearance matters that much, chances are there’s a restroom at your destination for final touch-ups.

  • Driving without shoes. Take a few moments and make sure you’re dressed for the road. The law in your state may require shoes while driving, and your high school driving instructor or your mother may have told you to wear shoes no matter what the law says.

    You want your attire to measure up, especially if you’re in an accident or stopped by police for a traffic violation. Of course, start with putting in your contact lenses or wearing your glasses, especially if your license says you should be wearing corrective lenses.

  • Eating. Just another distraction waiting to end badly. Granted, even a compact car with base-level trim likely has a half-dozen cupholders, and just about any food you can think of is as close as the next intersection or highway exit ramp.

    The hot coffee, soup or barbeque chicken sounded good before a spill, burn or smear took your hands off the wheel and landed you in an accident in a split second. In addition to getting dirty, you could cause your car to malfunction if you get something in the wiring or computer chips.

  • Singing. There’s an official name for singing along: "Caraoking." Singing along is more likely to embarrass you than break the law, especially if your show is seen by someone you know as you cruise around town. Changing your playlist or fiddling with radio controls may be a real distraction. Let’s just skip hazards from "car dancing."

    Watch the noise level in your car, from all sources. Many people claim they can filter out everything else going on in the car, but unless you’re driving a bus and passengers need to stay behind a white line, can a driver really shut distractions out?

    When you get in your car, your objective is to get where you’re going, not to get in an accident, whether it’s spilling your breakfast in your lap, or a collision. Eyes on road, and think about your actions. Those seemingly oddball traffic laws found across the country were put into place to meet a need and solve a problem, after all.

    Oh, and stay sharp in those work zone and emergency areas, too.

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