All it takes is four seconds to change the radio station, sip your coffee, check your makeup in the rearview mirror, read a text — or get into an accident.

Did you know that taking your eyes off the road for four seconds while going 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded? Hard to believe, we know, but what’s even more unsettling is the number of people who drive like this everyday. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are 660,000 distracted drivers on the road at any given time, which many experts believe is a contributing factor to the increase in motor vehicle deaths the US has seen in recent years.  Keep in mind that as distracted driving behaviors increase, so do insurance rates.

Remember: distractions can be cognitive, visual, or both. Think of it this way, if you decide to read a text while driving, not only are you taking your eyes of the road, but you’re also thinking about that text instead of keeping an eye on your surroundings. It’s important to note, however, that driving distractions are not limited to cell phone use. Any activity that disrupts your attention from the main task at hand — driving — can be a danger when you’re behind the wheel. Here are some examples: 

  • Dialing or making a call on your phone
  • Playing with a smartphone app
  • Texting
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Programming a GPS or navigation system
  • Adjusting a radio or MP3 player
  • Looking for items in your vehicle

So what can you do to be a safer driver and to model safer driving behavior for the next generation? We’ve outlined a few tips to help keep everyone safe on the roads.

Be prepared before you leave.

Before you start your car, make sure you’re really ready to go. Your music is set, your phone is off, your sunglasses are on. If you’re running late and planning to multitask while you drive to save time, know that doing things like eating or grooming can be just as distracting as trying to text while driving. You should also make sure everything in your vehicle is secure before leaving — including pets and children. Trying to reach for something rolling around in the back seat while driving isn’t just a pain, it’s also a danger to yourself and everyone around you when you’re driving.

Put your phone away.

When you get in your car, put your phone upside-down and out of reach to avoid temptation. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, consider putting your phone on silent so you aren’t distracted by notifications, calls, or texts. There are also gadgets available to help you or your teen driver stay safe on the road like Cellcontrol™ DriveID Technology from Arbella. Remember: no text or phone call is as important as a life. It can wait.

Pull over if you need to.

Maybe you dropped the top to your water bottle while you were driving. Or maybe you remembered you need to make an important phone call before arriving at your destination. Either way, you should always pull over to a safe place to address the issue rather than trying to multitask while driving. The same is true if you’re feeling drowsy while driving. It’s always better to pull over safely to take a rest than to try and push through and risk falling asleep at the wheel.

Distracted driving is an epidemic that endangers you, your passengers and the lives of anyone else on the road, which is why we want to challenge you to confront the problem. Understanding the dangers of distracted driving is the first step towards changing your behavior. But now it’s up to you to set a good example for those around you and to help eliminate distracted driving behaviors from our roads.

Here at HIG, our goal is to help keep you and those around you safe. Give us a call today at (508) 676-5949 or visit our website to at to learn more about distracted driving and how to put an end to the risky behavior.