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Protecting yourself from distracted drivers

Most people know the signs of a distracted driver. A few include: talking on the cellphone; eating while driving; constantly looking down; braking suddenly; putting on make-up; driving slowly; wearing headphones; dealing with children in the backseat; and veering into the other traffic lane.

Distracted driving has become a major road hazard. As a result, attentive drivers who follow the road and traffic rules must practice ways to protect themselves and their passengers from such dangerous and reckless drivers.

Basic defensive driving tips

Every day in the U.S., distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures about 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention.

The best way to protect yourself from a distracted driver is by following the basic rule learned from your drivers' education instructor: Focus on being a defensive driver. Here are some guidelines that may protect you and your passengers from a distracted driver:

  • Always make defensive driving the first safety rule when you're driving on the road. By being alert, you can spot potential hazards and avoid them.
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. By subscribing to the three- to four-second driving rule you can better anticipate sudden braking or speed changes.
  • Keep your eyes moving, and constantly check your side and rearview mirrors while driving. You never know what hazards will arise.
  • Anticipate what other drivers may do. This may include driving through red traffic lights and stop signs, or failing to signal.
  • Wear your seat belt, and make sure passengers are doing so, too. If you're involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you may save yourself from injury or death by being strapped in a seat belt.
  • Use the car's horn to alert the other driver that he or she is veering into your lane. However, avoid angry gestures, which could stir up a potential road rage incident.

And don't forget about yourself. You, too, must minimize distractions while driving. Put away the cellphone, and do not keep it on the passenger's seat while you drive. Don't do any mascara touch-ups while driving, and make sure you eat while at home. Safe driving is for everyone.

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