According to United States distracted driving statistics, approximately 3,328 people died and approximately 421,000 were injured as a result of distracted driving in 2012 (the most recent year for which statistics are available).

As New Mexico drivers, we all have a responsibility to keep our roads safe. We can all do our part to prevent distracted driving by examining our own driving habits and setting a good example for those around us. And actually, that’s pretty easy.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is operating a motor vehicle while your attention is diverted elsewhere. Distracted driving includes  a number of activities performed while driving, such as:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Checking e-mail
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Grooming
  • Eating
  • Talking or arguing
  • Reading or following a map
  • Watching TV
  • Looking for something on the ground

It is important to note that just a split-second of attention diverted away from the road is distracted driving. Unfortunately, that’s all it takes to cause injury, death or damage to others’ or your property.

4 Ways to Stop Distracted Driving

The good news is: we all have the ability to reduce the number of people on the road who are driving while distracted, starting with ourselves. To reduce the potential for distracted driving:

  1. Download an app. You won’t be distracted by messages and phone calls you don’t know you’re getting. Make them wait! Every major cell phone carrier now has a downloadable app that can temporarily block notifications for texts, e-mails and phone calls while you are driving. Check with your mobile service provider for more information.
  2. Pull over. If you are tired, upset or otherwise distracted, pull over until a time where you can fully concentrate on driving. Get some rest, take a breather and get back on the road when you’re alert and calm.
  3. Secure pets and children. It can be a huge distraction when they’re running in the back seat or climbing onto your lap while you’re driving. Before you even leave your home, ensure that your children and pets are strapped in properly.
  4. Set your GPS. If you are unfamiliar with the area where you will be traveling, set your GPS before you start heading to your destination. If you need to make adjustments to your route, pull over before you begin tapping, zooming or impatiently waiting for rerouting to finish loading.

These distracted driving prevention tips don’t just work for you, they’ll work for your friends, too! But you need to spread the message. All it takes is a few minutes to speak with your friends, teen drivers or relatives about how to be part of the solution! You can make a difference!