Today, drivers increasingly use their cell phones in the car. While we recommend avoiding using your phone while driving, we recognize that it may sometimes be unavoidable. If you must use your cell phone while driving, here are some cell phone safety tips to follow.
Safety tips for using your phone while driving
Use safety features like speed dial or voice assistance
Carefully read your instruction manual and learn to take advantage of valuable features most cell phones offer, including automatic redial and memory. Also, work on memorizing the phone keypad so you can use the speed dial function without taking your attention off the road.
Most smartphones have voice-assisted dialing. If you must make a call when driving, it’s best to let your phone do the work. Make voice-assisted calls at home before you try it in the car so you know how it works. Also, voice assistants work better once they learn to recognize and respond to your voice. You don’t want to be distracted by technical difficulties while driving.
Use a hands-free device
Several hands-free cell phone accessories are readily available today. Whether you choose an installed mounted device for your cell phone or a speaker phone accessory, take advantage of these cell phone safety devices for enhanced cell phone safety in the car.
Position your cell phone within easy reach
Place your cell phone within easy reach and where you can grab it without taking your eyes off the road when using your phone while driving. If you receive a call inconveniently, let your voicemail answer it for you and return the call when you’re not driving.
Avoid using your cell phone during hazardous driving conditions
If necessary, suspend the call when driving in hazardous conditions such as snow, sleet, or rain, and when merging into heavy traffic. As a driver, your first responsibility is to pay attention to the road.
Avoid writing or reading while driving
If you are reading an address book, business card, or writing a “to do” list while driving a car, you are not watching where you are going. It’s common sense. Don’t get caught in a dangerous situation because you’re reading or writing and not paying attention to the road or nearby vehicles.
Avoid engaging in stressful conversations while driving
Stressful or emotional conversations and driving do not mix — they are distracting and even dangerous when you’re behind the wheel of a car. Make people you are talking with aware you are driving and, if necessary, suspend conversations that have the potential to divert your attention from the road.
Use your cell phone to call for help
Your cell phone is one of the greatest tools you can own to protect yourself and your family in dangerous situations. Dial 911 or another local emergency number in emergencies such as a fire, traffic accident, road hazard, or medical emergency. You can also use your cell phone to help others in emergencies. Your cell phone allows you to be a “Good Samaritan” in your community. If you see a car accident, crime in progress, or another serious emergency where lives are in danger, call 911 or another local emergency number, as you would want others to do for you.
Certain situations you encounter while driving may require attention but are not urgent enough to merit a call for emergency services. For non-emergencies, consider calling roadside assistance or another non-emergency number.
Other considerations for cell phone safety when driving
According to The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), using your phone while driving is a proven distraction — no matter the circumstances. Even when using voice-assisted dialing and a hands-free device, your brain will be focused on the conversation and not fully on the task of driving, which is dangerous. Distracted driving can cause accidents, injuries, and ultimately increase your auto insurance rates if you have an accident or get a ticket.
For additional information about cell phone safety and legislation, see the Legislative Tracking Database to follow your state’s cell phone legislation and other current issues and the National Conference of State Legislatures to understand state laws for cell phone use while driving.