Kicking old habits may increase your alertness behind the wheel

You might not even realize it, but it’s possible you often drive while distracted, drowsy or under unsafe circumstances due to your daily habits and choices.

People have habits that keep them on track. But there are also many everyday tendencies people aren’t too proud to admit to. When it comes to driving, adjusting some personal routines may greatly benefit your alertness.

Wait until after your drive to text

Whether you pick up your phone or use hands-free technology to text while driving, it’s a distraction. You are mentally sidetracked when you compose or read messages, go on social media or consume other content on your phone — even if your eyes never shift away from the road ahead. The National Safety Council reports that driver cell phone use is declining. Yet cell phone use was a factor in nearly 350 crashes in 2018.

Take your time to get ready

If you rush out the door, then you’re inviting more opportunities to multitask while driving. For example, if you are running late for work, then there’s a chance you haven’t finished doing your hair and you’ve grabbed breakfast to go. Even if you only eat your granola bar while going 30 mph or fix your hair at a red light, these small actions can still make you less aware of what’s happening on the road.

Get steady sleep

Drowsy driving can also severely affect your attention span. In fact, almost 800 Americans lost their lives in drowsy driving accidents in 2017. So, if you are low on sleep, fatigued or take medication that causes drowsiness, you should avoid taking the driver’s seat. However, consistently getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night may reduce the amount of accidents that happen when drivers are sleepy.

Service your vehicle on time

Keeping up to date on your vehicle’s maintenance schedule should always be a priority if you drive regularly. Because while procrastinating on completing household tasks like the laundry or dishes may not seem to be a matter of life and death, having a mechanical failure on the road can lead to disaster. Let’s say you delay fixing an issue with your brakes and just try to give yourself plenty of space between cars to compensate. If someone suddenly stops in front of you and you don’t immediately notice, then you might not have enough space to safely come to a complete stop.

Keeping your mind clear while driving is crucial. This means you shouldn’t be using mental space to remind yourself to keep your eyes open during a drive or to drive extra slowly because your car is making an odd sound. Eliminating distractions may prevent you from suffering painful injuries, dealing with a damaged car and going through the claims process.