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6 driving habits many people don't realize are distractions

Everyone knows that distracted driving is hazardous, but people often don't recognize exactly how many of their behaviors are actually a problem. A recent study shows that Americans basically double their risk of an accident through distractions.

The problem with a lot of habitual behaviors is that they're just that, habits. Many people do them so unconsciously or so often that they don't see them as dangerous.

Do you recognize yourself in any of the following examples?

1. Do you snack or take meals in the car?

Eating and drinking are common distractions for drivers. Many people think nothing of sipping a hot coffee as they head to work in the morning or eating their lunch out of a bag on the go.

2. Do you search for music?

Changing the radio station or fiddling with the CD player is another way that drivers inadvertently distract themselves. Most people think nothing of it, but it can take a driver's eyes of the road just long enough to cause a serious accident.

3. Do you grove to your tunes?

Rocking and singing to your favorite song in the car is so common that jokes are made about it. The potential for an accident, however, is no joking matter.

4. Have you fumbled around for something dropped?

A phone that's slipped out of place, a pair of sunglasses you forgot you needed or a water bottle that's rolled under the seat can all cause a driver to fumble around. Trying to retrieve an errant object divides your attention, even if you keep your eyes straight ahead.

5. Have you adjusted the temperature?

Almost nobody thinks of this as a distraction, but many people can't adjust their car's air conditioning or heat without glancing away from the road.

6. Do you ever attend to personal grooming?

Men and women both have been known to glance in the rear view mirror and notice that their hair is out of place. It's hard not to be self-conscious, but it's definitely safer to let grooming go until the car is stopped.

It's estimated that 36 percent of all car accidents, around 4 million a year, could be prevented if drivers lost all these distracting habits. For your own safety's sake, consider adjusting your habits in your vehicle.

Source: Geico, "Distracted Driving," accessed March 30, 2018

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