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April 5, 2023

The call can wait: Stay safe by staying off your phone when driving

You’re driving your car, making sure to pay careful attention to the road, when suddenly, your phone rings. For a moment, you wonder what you should do: take your eyes off the road and answer it, or let the call go to voicemail. 

These days, this is an all-too-common scenario, and what you choose to do in the moment could mean the difference between life and death, because distracted driving is now the leading cause of car accidents in the United States. In fact, mobile phone use is now one of the leading causes of fatal car crashes in the United States.  

The facts about distracted driving

Maybe you’re not convinced that using a mobile device while driving is dangerous because you haven’t caused an accident while using yours. Or perhaps you think life can’t wait. After all, you could miss an update about an important situation if you let the call go to voicemail. 

Could one quick glance at your phone when you’re behind the wheel really hurt? The answer, of course, is absolutely. Just take a look at these facts:

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, there have been at least 73,945 distracted driving crashes in Ohio since 2017, including 2,186 fatal and serious injury crashes.

A recent study by Liberty Mutual Insurance found that 80 percent of teens fundamentally view app use while driving as “not distracting.” 

Liberty Mutual also found that 86 percent of millennials admitted to using their phone while driving to send texts, watch videos and check social media.   

Put the phone down: How to stop being a distracted driver 

It takes a mere second to have a car accident, but the United States Department of Transportation estimates that it takes about five seconds to read a text. In that amount of time, if you were driving 55 miles per hour, you could drive the length of a football field. So, if you text and drive, your risk of getting into a car accident climbs exponentially. 

Don’t put your life, or the lives of others, at risk. Here’s four easy ways stay off your phone when you’re driving.  

Let your phone know you’re behind the wheel
Both iPhone and android phones have a driving mode feature that can be activated before you start driving. This will alert callers and those who text you that you are unable to respond because you’re on the road. 

Enlist the help of your passengers
If you’re traveling with another person, designate phone duties to them. This could be a good plan for longer road trips when a call or two is inevitable, or if you need to drive someplace when you’re expecting a call you simply can’t miss. 

Install an app
If your car insurance carrier offers a safe driver discount, consider signing up. These programs often require you to use a downloaded app while driving that tracks if you use your phone behind the wheel. You could also try OnMyWay, an app that will pay you for not using your phone while driving. 

Keep your phone out of reach
If you don’t think you’ll use your phone’s do not disturb feature or an app, you might want to simply put your phone someplace out of reach while you’re driving like the trunk, in a purse, or the glove compartment.  

Note: while this might be one of the best (and most obvious) options for shorter trips and errands, we recommend having your phone within reach for longer trips, especially if you’re someplace unfamiliar. That way, you’ll be able pull over and make a call in the event of an emergency.   

Stay up-to-date on distracted driving with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s distracted driving dashboard. Want to learn more ways to stay safe on the road? Give the Cincinnati team at Roehr Insurance Agency a call (just not when you’re driving, of course!).

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