Recently the Atlanta-area news has been plagued with stories of loss of life in motor-vehicle accidents. At Jim Ellis Automotive, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families that have been personally affected by the loss of loved ones in motor-vehicle accidents. 

Unfortunately, distracted driving has become so commonplace that many don’t think anything of it anymore. But distracted driving really is incredibly dangerous. While we love having the opportunity to outfit clients with automobiles that enhance their mobility and connect them with modern-day technology, we do so with the caveat that each of these autmobiles can be an unintended dangerous weapon if not handled carefully and responsibly.

Distracted driving comes in many forms, but each one has similar characteristics and results - the person behind the wheel of two tons of metal going 60+ miles an hour isn’t paying attention and bad things happen. Please be aware of some of these examples of distracted driving and let's commit as a community to doing our best to be responsible behind the wheel so as not to put our loved ones or the loved ones of someone else at risk. 

The wandering eye

Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes off the road.

  • Changing the radio station, CD or climate controls. Adjust your music or A/C when you’re at a full stop like a stoplight.
  • Checking yourself out (you know you do it). You look fine--fix your make-up, hair, or teeth when you get where you’re going.
  • Reading. Save the newspapers, work papers, maps, or texts for non-lethal situations.

Hands on the wheel

Manual distractions occur when you take your hands off the wheel.

  • Grooming. Give yourself an extra five minutes and leave the makeup bag, hairbrush, or electric razor at home.
  • Talking on your cell. According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, using a cell phone diminishes the amount of brain activity focused on driving by 37 percent. If you absolutely must use a cell, hands-free sets are inexpensive. Fork over a few bucks and get one.
  • Texting. Don’t do it. Texting is a triple threat - your eyes, hands and brain are all preoccupied, so save it for later.
  • Eating and drinking. You can probably scarf down that burger and fries in less than five minutes. Pull over and nosh.

Pay attention!

Cognitive distractions occur when your mind isn’t on what you’re doing.

  • Yelling at the kids in the back seat. Pull over if you have to give your kids the what’s what.
  • Worrying about that big meeting. Try to keep your mind on the task at hand. It will make you a safer driver (and keep your ulcer from perforating).
  • Spacing out. We’ve all arrived at our destination and not remembered driving there. How scary is that? If you feel yourself drifting, give yourself a Cher slap and “Snap out of it!”
  • Fatigue. If you’re traveling at highway speed, nodding off for just 2.5 seconds means your car just traveled over the length of a football field with no one steering it. If you have to, pull over and take a nap. Fatigue causes over 100,000 accidents a year--don't be one of them.

Distracted driving is a serious and growing problem. But it’s one completely within our power to stop. Remember, it’s not just your life on the line when you get behind the wheel.

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