Focus Behind the Steering Wheel!

Driving with focus is a choice. Choose to be attentive each time you slide behind the steering wheel. Adopting the following habits will help you minimize driving distractions.

Cell phone calls. Most vehicles are equipped with hands-free technology now. However, hands-free does not mean distraction-free. Use your cell phone only for emergencies. Consider silencing the unit while driving or setting up an auto-response that sends calls directly to voicemail.

Texts and emails. Never text or email behind the wheel. Motorists overwhelmingly say texting and emailing behind the wheel is unacceptable. And yet, a recent AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index study found nearly one-quarter of drivers admit to this activity. There is a glaring disconnecct between beliefs and practices. Pull off the road to send or read texts and emails.

Mapping. Motorists often rely on GPS technology to reach destinations these days. It's important, though, to program the location and review the route before leaving home.

Passengers. Securely strap children in car seats. Find a safe place to stop when kids need attention. All front and back seat passengers need to be buckled up. Ask for help watching for road hazards and adjusting dash controls. Crate pets for transportation.

Before the trip. Adjust seat position, temperature control, music selection, mirrors and other vehicle controls before putting the car in gear. Organize the IPASS, money for tolls, and other essentials that will be needed during the trip. Stow loose gear to prevent spills en route. Review and know how to use vehicle options like cruise control, lane departure, blind-spot detection, and more.

During the trip. Avoid eating, drinking, grooming, and smoking while driving. Road signs, billboard displays, construction zones, accident site, and scenery tempt drivers to look away from the road. Be aware of the allure and return to the task at hand as soon as possible. Daydreaming, drowsiness, and emotional conversations often get in the way of reaching the destination safely too. Take periodic breaks to refresh.

Finally, be sure your auto insurance is intact and up to date. Motorists often turn to an insurer for assistance following a crash. There should be an auto insurance identification card in the vehicle glove box. Review policy coverages annually. Confirm limits adequately protect your financial assets and adjust as needed. Check vehicle specifis, driver details, deductibles, and extra add-ons too. Make corrections if necessary. Note the claim process and be familiar with your duties when a loss occurs.