Simple yet effective ways to stay safe behind the wheel All of us have taken our eyes off the road for a few seconds due to common distractions such as a crying child, a fight among siblings in the backseat or the ‘beep’ of a text message arriving on your smart phone. But even a temporary lapse in attention poses a serious risk of injury when a vehicle is cruising at highway speeds. Today an increasing number of personal vehicles are laden with high-tech distractions such as cellphones and wireless Internet. When drivers take their hands off the wheel to use these devices they pose a risk to themselves and others. Research shows that U.S. drivers are far more likely to be distracted while driving when compared to their European counterparts. An average of nine people die every day in the U.S. from distracted driving. And it’s estimated that at least one in four car accidents are caused in part by a distracted driver talking on or texting with a cell phone. The problem is that many people don’t realize how dangerous some of their everyday behind-the-wheel activities really are. Leaving your phone on while driving, for example, can be a bad move. A ringing cell phone is difficult to ignore. Text-message notifications? Perhaps even more difficult to tune out. That’s why one of the best things you can do is simply to turn off your phone while you’re driving. Do you use a hands-free device so that you can still talk on your phone while your’e driving? Research shows that’s still a distraction and can impede your ability to drive safely. Another often-overlooked driving distraction: Eating or enjoying a cup of coffee while driving to work each day. Multitasking may be a great idea at work or at home, but behind the wheel it’s always a great idea to focus only on one thing — safe driving.