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5 of the most dangerous driving distractions

You know simply following the traffic signals and rules of the road isn't enough to avoid all accidents, so you pull over one day, on the way home from work, and watch other drivers go by. What you find is astounding. Drivers are on their phones, doing their makeup, turning around to look at people in the back seat, and constantly taking their eyes off of the road as they pass you.

After a half hour, you can easily see the real risks of driving through your daily commute. It seems simple and low-key -- boring, even, after working at the same job for 10 years -- but now you know the types of dangerous drivers you're sharing the road with. Below are five of the most dangerous distractions that cause traffic accidents day in and day out.

1. Cellphones.

Phones are dangerous no matter how they're used. Drivers who are texting get a ton of press lately, but talking on the phone can also be distracting. It takes one hand off of the wheel, and it can take a driver's mind off of the task of driving -- even if he or she is watching the road.

2. Talking to friends.

Even when not talking on the phone, drivers can be incredibly distracted by holding any conversation, forcing the brain to multitask. Plus, with friends in the car, there's the temptation to turn and look at them while talking. At 60 miles per hour, even glancing over for a second or two means the car covers a lot of ground with no one watching where it's going.

3. Eating.

Eating and drinking behind the wheel sounds like a terrific time-saver. Why stop for lunch when you can hit the drive-thru and spend those 20 minutes covering ground while you eat? The problem is that eating is filled with distractions, from reaching to get food out of the bag to getting grease on the steering wheel to spilling hot coffee when the car hits a pothole.

4. Listening to music.

Music certainly helps make a boring drive more exciting. However, when drivers are so into the song that they're singing along and even swaying or dancing behind the wheel, they're not focused on driving. Music can reduce reaction times.

5. Reading directions.

GPS has, in some ways, helped reduce distractions. Drivers can listen to audio commands, rather than trying to hold up a map and drive. However, some drivers listen so blindly to the GPS that they forget to pay attention to the traffic around them. They can obey a command to turn, for instance, without noticing that the light is still red.

As you pull back into traffic, all you can think about is how so many drivers aren't watching you, the traffic signals, or the road. That commute to work holds a lot more risks than you may have realized before. If you're hit and injured by a distracted driver, you need to know if you have a legal right to financial compensation.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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