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Smartphones create another distraction while driving

As people of the 21st century, we are well aware of the role a smart phone plays in our lives. According to Pew Research, three out of four adults own a smart phone today. While we know that having a smart phone can distract us from the moment, could it be distracting even when we're not using it? New research suggests that just the presence of a smart phone within our sight can be detrimental to our ability to focus on everyday tasks.

A smart phone affects our ability to drive

Distracted driving is at an all-time high, and the omnipresence of technology in our lives plays a significant factor in this. According to the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, just having a smart phone present can negatively affect our cognitive ability. Texting and driving is illegal in Georgia, but that doesn't many of us from sneaking a peak at a stop light or an open stretch of road. 

The presence of a smart phone in a car is a particularly tricky circumstance. You may have purchased a smart phone for the GPS features or to make a call during a roadside emergency, but now it could be the primary cause of accidents while driving. You can't put the phone in another room, as the study suggests, and storing it in a cup holder or laying it on the passenger seat could also be a nascent distraction. What can drivers do to be safe behind the wheel?

How to avoid distractions while driving

In the study about smart phone distractions, the researchers tested the presence of a smart phone on a person's desk, in their pocket or in the other room. The results show that participants who left their phones in their pocket were neither helped nor hurt by the location of their phone. This option could be best for drivers behind the wheel too.

Virtual Drive USA, a company that provides driver's education resources, offers three tips to preventing smart phone distractions while driving.

  1. Silence the phone's ringer while driving.
  2. Keep the phone out of sight in the glove box.
  3. Download an app that disallows phone use while driving.

Smart phones are here to stay, so understanding how to manage their use responsibly within our everyday lives is critical to our safety, especially while driving. Likewise, drivers who are aware of a smart phone's pervasive role in car accidents can be in the best position to prevent them.

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