Automotive Safety

8 ways to avoid texting while driving

Smartphone sitting on a car seat next to the gearshift

Knowing that you shouldn't text while driving is easy; putting that knowledge into practice is hard.

Getting a text on the road presents immediate dilemmas: Should you read it? Is it important? If it is important, should you respond? How? That anxiety can test the resolve of even the most conscientious motorist. But with distracted driving killing an average of 9 people and injuring almost 800 every day in America1, it's important to know how to avoid this situation, from simple but effective measures to some innovative high-tech solutions.

RELATED: Which drivers are texting behind the wheel the most?


1. Put your phone in the back seat

One of the most effective solutions is also one of the simplest: Put your phone in the back seat—or at least away and out of sight—in a spot you know you can't reach while driving. 

2. Place your phone in Do Not Disturb mode

If you'd rather keep your phone in the front seat, use Do Not Disturb mode. This prevents the phone from ringing, vibrating, or otherwise notifying you of texts. If you use your phone for navigating while driving, however, text messages may still appear, depending on the phone.

3. Have your phone automatically enter "car mode"

iPhones with iOS 11 can be set to detect when they're in a moving car and automatically enter Do Not Disturb While Driving mode. This limits notifications and can send a customizable automated reply to let people know you're driving. Android users can download apps with similar functions. 


4. Pick a designated texter 

Traveling with a passenger? Put them in charge of the phone. Make sure they have some way to unlock your device, whether that means providing your thumbprint or sharing your passcode. 

5. Use hands-free technology sparingly

If you do use hands-free technology, bear in mind that according to AAA research, even hands-free, voice-activated systems can be significantly distracting—hands-free isn't risk-free. Be sure to familiarize yourself with their limitations.


6. Wear a visual, physical reminder

For extra reinforcement when the urge to text while driving strikes, try a wearable reminder that can nudge you to make the right decision in the heat of the moment. (And imagine how you'd feel if you had a texting-related crash while wearing a "Don't text and drive" thumb band.) It doesn't have to be a purpose-built band—even a rubber band from the grocery store can be helpful. 

7. Pull over

If all else fails, pulling over is always an option. Find a safe place to park (if you're on the freeway, that means exiting) and text away. Make sure whoever you're texting knows you'll be driving again once the conversation ends. 


8. Let your family check if you're driving

Sharing your location with family and trusted friends through apps such as Find My Friends can cut down on common texts they might send while you're behind the wheel. Rather than asking "Have you left yet?" or "Will you be here soon?" they can check the app to see if you're on the road. 

Are you driving intexticated?

Whether it’s texting, calling, navigating, or something else, using your smartphone while driving is dangerous. Texting and driving can have the same consequences as drinking and driving: deaths and injuries.

Read how one family lost their only child to a distracted driver, then take AAA's pledge to not text and drive. 

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