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Multitasking behind the wheel

Published on: 16:25PM Jun 02, 2015

May we have your undivided attention, please?

Of the 210 million licensed drivers in the United States, 660,000 of them are also using a cell phone or an electronic device while driving, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey. These drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a car crash, according to research from the National Safety Council.

Multitasking behind the wheel takes your attention away from driving and puts you and others at risk of an accident. Grinnell Mutual urges you to keep your focus on the road.

Multitasking creates unintended consequences

“Drivers veer off of the road while switching the radio station, answering a phone call, or looking at GPS devices. We see claims where people have overcorrected, lost control, and had an accident,” said Jana Innis, Central Iowa Field Team claims adjuster at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company.

Many drivers multitask as a way to save time, but the unintended consequences may cost them money. The average claim for a property damage crash was $2,246 in 2014, according to Grinnell Mutual’s Claims Division. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, the most recent data available.

(Read more about teens, mobile phones, and driving.)

Five habits to stop multitasking when you drive

Prepare for the trip. “Make sure you have the destination entered into your GPS or map app so that you’re not putting it in while you’re driving down the road,” said Innis.

Pull over safely. Whether it’s an urgent phone call, checking the map, or choosing a new music stream, pull over to a safe location.

Turn it off. “Turn off your phone when you’re driving,” said Innis. “At the very least, silence it.”

Be aware in bad weather. Whether its fog, rain, or wind, driving requires all of your attention and the margin of error narrows.

No drowsy driving. Be aware of how tired you may be behind the wheel. Fatigue can increase reaction times.

Businesses, have a policy. Consider including language in your employee policies that a vehicle operator will not use mobile devices while the vehicle is in motion.

“When traveling on business, consider including a message in your voicemail greeting stating that you are driving and unavailable to answer your phone,” said Innis.

For more information

For more information about distracted driving, visit For additional driving safety tips, visit the Front Porch blog on