Most smart phones are home to dozens of apps that can notify you with a ping, a beep, a tone, a buzz or just an icon displayed on the screen. These notifications tell you when you have a text, a message, a photo, a game or some other item calling for your attention. But if you are driving a car, you have no attention to spare.

Hands, eyes and mind’s eye

Drivers generally understand the danger presented by any activity that forces you to look away from the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regularly reminds drivers that looking away from the road for 5 seconds while driving 55 mph means you covered the length of a football field without seeing it. Drivers also appreciate that taking your hands off the wheel makes driving rather difficult. What they don’t realize is just how much thought goes into safe driving.

 

The attempt to replace human drivers with autonomous vehicles highlights just how difficult safe driving can be. Whether you realize it or not, you make hundreds, even thousands of decisions over the course of a drive. You understand your speed and the speed of all the vehicles around you and navigate situations that confuse even advanced computers. Machines will probably replace human drivers eventually, but that doesn’t make safe driving any less impressive a feat.

What no human can do is make the right decision without the necessary input. Drivers who are thinking about their phone instead of their driving are bound to make mistakes. That is why cell phones can present a deadly distraction even for drivers who are disciplined enough to put them down while they drive.

Turn it off, change the settings or leave it at home

If your phone can distract you while you drive, it is a danger to you. Most phones can be set to turn off notifications while you drive. If that isn’t enough, you may need to shut the phone off while you are behind the wheel. If the thought of turning your phone off, or even leaving it at home, causes you to break out into a sweat, there is a good chance it has the power to distract you while you drive.

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