13 tips to stay focused while driving

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People admit to spending 13 minutes a day on their phones while driving. That’s 91 minutes a week of distracted driving, which increases the chance of getting into an accident. So here are some distracted driving statistics and 13 tips to help you stay focused while driving.

1 - Phone free

1. Commit to phone-free driving.

We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. In order to change a negative habit, we first have to acknowledge it and commit to making a change. Science says to dedicate at least 3 weeks to not using your phone at all while driving. Store it in the glove box, trunk, or wherever it won’t tease you. Afterall, 99% of drivers say their phone is the source of their top 3 distractions while driving.

2 - Scout your trip before you leave

2. Scout your trip before you leave.

If you don’t know directions to where you’re going, look them up ahead of time so you at least have a general idea of your driving route. Looking up directions while you’re on the road is the equivalent to texting and driving. So if you need to make adjustments during your trip, first pull over when and where it’s safe.

Remember, stop signs and traffic lights are for regulating traffic flow and checking whether it’s safe to proceed. They’re not for peeking at that text that just came in.

3 - Create a quick pre driving ritual

3. Create a quick pre-driving ritual. (And stick to it.)

Seatbelt, mirrors, music. Whatever you need for your drive, set it up before you shift out of park. It’ll become second nature before you know it.

4 - Prep your playlist

4. Prep your playlist.

You’ll never run out of entertainment if you create a playlist in advance. Whether it’s music, podcasts, or something else, avoid the danger of choosing your jams while driving. (We’ve started this playlist for you.)

5 - Enable do not disturb

5. Enable Do Not Disturb.

If you don’t lock your phone in the trunk, at least use this feature on your phone. You’ll be less tempted to check a message if the pings are on pause. Customize your settings, and even create auto replies.

52% of adult drivers who check their mobile device while driving report that a group chat is the thing most likely to turn their attention away from the road.

6 - Limit passengers and pets

6. Limit passengers and pets.

Sometimes lugging around pets and kids in the car is inevitable. So for their safety and to limit the distractions they’ll cause, buckle children in their seatbelts or car seats, and secure pets in harnesses or crates. 13% of drivers admit to playing with pets while driving—avoid the temptation and fasten them in.

7 - Remember you're not the exception

7. Remember you’re not the exception.

Nearly half of drivers (47%) say their biggest concern on the road is distracted driving. Yet 82% of drivers admit to using a mobile device themselves. It’s easy to think, “Other people can’t multitask, but I can, just for a second.” This is the phone addiction talking. You’re not the exception. Nobody is. If you’ve multitasked or texted while driving before and been fine, you’ve just been lucky.

8 - Save movie time for the big screen

8. Save movie time for the big screen.

10% of drivers have watched a streaming video, such as a show or movie, while driving. Theatres and living rooms are the place for drama—not our streets and roads.

9 - Leave the dressing room and kitchen at home

9. Leave the dressing room and kitchen at home.

People are using their cars as the place to finish getting ready. 18% of drivers admit to grooming while behind the wheel. And 12% say they’ve changed clothes while driving. Whether eating or shaving, nearly 3 in 10 drivers (29%) admit to using body parts other than their hands when steering. Vehicles are for transport, not for extending morning routines.

10 - Set aside time for social gratification

10. Set aside time for social gratification.

When we carry around our social networks in our pockets, we get used to instant gratification and frequent self esteem boosts. When someone likes your photo or sends you a message, dopamine levels in your brain increase. So it makes sense that we want to immediately satisfy the urge to check our smartphones. Try setting aside times in your day (outside of the car) for getting these boosts. Like anything, it can become habit.

11 - Embrace alone time

11. Embrace alone time. And drive with a cool mind.

Smartphones have set expectations that we’re always reachable. Now, with unrealistic time demands, interconnectivity, and entertainment at our fingertips, we struggle with alone and quiet time. Try using your commute as a mini getaway from it all. No emails, phone calls, or deadlines. Just the open road.

If that open road is actually a jam and your emotions rise, allow yourself cool-off time on the side of the road or at an exit. Driving while highly emotional can be extremely dangerous. And don’t use car time for serious conversations with passengers. Wait until you can give each other the attention the situation deserves.

12 - Accessorize

12. Accessorize.

If you’re going to make a call (which should only be for emergencies), use a bluetooth device so your hands are free (some states require this by law). There are accessories galore in this department, including cell phone car cradles and mounts. However, voice command and bluetooth are still dangerous, so use sparingly.

13 - Use rideshares

13. Use rideshares.

Not driving is better than driving while distracted. Consider using a rideshare company if you’re going to be texting, emailing, shopping, etc. (Root provides Lyft credits on select holidays.)

Breaking habits is hard. We get it. But we also know it’s possible. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. At Root, we only insure good drivers and offer a Focused Driving Discount to members who avoid cell phone use while driving. So once you’re a safe driver (or if you already are), see how much you can save and get a car insurance quote with Root.

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Information cited here is from our second annual distracted driving study we conducted online through Wakefield Research.

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