While there are plenty of bad habits out there that a lot of people want to get rid of, I want to zero in on one that’s got me all riled up: distracted driving.

A couple weeks ago, I was driving the less-than-10-minute ride home from my chiropractor. I noticed a car swerving ahead of me, and I thought to myself, “I bet that person’s texting” (let’s be real: I probably said it out loud). As I passed them, I confirmed that their face was looking down at that little glowing screen, with occasional glances up at the road.

Curious (and furious), I decided to try and look into the windows of as many other cars as I could for the rest of my drive and saw three more people clearly busy with their phones while driving. That’s four people in less than 10 minutes, on a road with a speed limit of 65 MPH.

One of my favorite podcasts, Note to Self, recently aired two episodes about tech-related distracted driving: Distracted Is the New Drunk and Meet the Textalyzer each feature sobering statistics on this dangerous habit, plus a need to create a stigma around it, like what happened to drunk driving.
So distracted driving is bad, and we shouldn’t do it (but a lot of us do). Cool, cool. Now how do we stop? Here are some ideas:

  • Put your phone away! I keep mine in my purse or laptop bag, on my passenger seat. But the fact that it’s within reach sometimes is too much of a temptation. Try your glove box.
  • Put your phone on silent and/or turn off notifications. If you don’t hear it chime, you’ll have no impetus to look at it (I know, I know: in theory).
  • If you listen to podcasts in the car and often finish one mid-commute, take some time before you start driving (or before you even get into the car) to set up a queue so that the next one plays automatically.
  • Distract yourself with something else (like the road!). Sing along to the radio; count roadkill; pretend you’re a professional driver on a closed course.
  • Be a present passenger. We’ve all been passengers in cars where the driver seems to think that they can handle the road and their phone—and it’s not pretty. Call them out on it. (And also recognize that you’re no better at multitasking than they are.)

Do you concentrate in your Camry? Are you focused in your Focus? Attentive in your Audi? (I’ll stop now.) These ideas can be translated to quitting other bad habits, too. I’ll cover that in the final post of the series tomorrow.

Hey! This post is part of a series. Check out the rest of them here:

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