Social media, instant messaging, and mobile device use have led to so many automobile accidents that the U.S. Department of Transportation has created an entire team dedicated to distracted driving and its risks. Their research has uncovered some chilling statistics about how dangerous mobile use can be while driving. Study the following social media, cellular service, and mobile device settings that you can change in order to reduce distractions and ensure that you (and other folks on the road) make it home safely.
Nearly every cell phone has a silent switch, which will turn off most of the little pings and bleeps that cause you instinctively to glance at your phone. Even if you don’t cave into looking at your phone’s screen, hearing the alluring bleep of a social media post can take your mind momentarily off the road. Switch your phone to silent mode, and then place it on the passenger seat, or some other place out of reach, so you don’t feel it vibrate whenever you receive a social media update.
These are the little alerts and banners that pop up on the screen of your device whenever you receive a comment, like, @mention, or direct message. They can illuminate your screen while you’re driving, and cause you to glance away from the road. Additionally, these sudden surges of light can disrupt your night vision, if your eyes have adjusted to the dark. Dig into your phone’s app settings and switch off push notifications: The updates can wait until you get home.
If you are addicted to browsing your phone at stoplights and while sitting in traffic, you might need to take more drastic measures while you’re in your car. Airplane mode switches off all Internet and cellular data connections, so your phone cannot retrieve new information (such as social media posts and timelines). This can be a major preventive measure that pulls your attention away from the online universe and back onto the road. Airplane mode doesn’t disable all your device’s functions; you can still listen to downloaded music through your car’s stereo system. That can achieve a similar effect to switching your phone to silent, since you’ll no longer receive distracting updates. However, this setting can help prevent you from interacting with others via social media.
Switch your phone off
Realistically, are social media updates and messages worth putting yourself and your passengers at risk for an auto crash and death? If you find you are unable to control your phone use while driving, switching it off can be an easy way to curtail usage. Powering on a device can take time, and can be enough of a psychological barrier to keep you from looking at the phone. For extra precautions, place your device in an area that’s hard to reach, such as the back seat or in a locked glove compartment.
Driving while distracted by mobile devices and social media can lead to extremely serious physical and legal consequences. Get out of the habit of checking social media updates while operating your vehicle, and speak up when you see others doing it. These preventive measures will help keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.