Unfortunately, no one really understands the value of being a more attentive driver until it’s already too late; you’ll have to hope that in your case you simply rear ended someone in traffic while accepting a faster route on your google maps navigation system. Others aren’t so lucky, a testament to the fact that driving-related accidents are among the leading cause of deaths for people in the modern world. Accordingly, if you feel any real incentive to stay alive, you might see some value in these tips:

cell phoneCome to terms with the Risks of Distractions:

Whether your iPod just disconnected from your stereo system and fell on the ground or your passenger just shared some disturbing information with you, you need to understand that it makes more sense to stop driving and deal with the situation than to remain driving if you will be distracted. You never need to be somewhere by a certain time more than you need to be alive, so simply stay grounded and take the time to be safe.

Recognize When You Are Distracted

Don’t let your guard down; you must be self-watchful to even register when your consciousness has degraded to the point that you are no longer driving safely. There’s a lot of middle ground between driving with the appropriate awareness and driving with so little awareness that you are starting to show signs of not paying attention, and you must monitor yourself to notice when you have slipped beneath the point of safety to make sure you don’t slip any further.

Realize that Distraction is Just an Attraction Elsewhere

It’s never as pressing in retrospect as it feels in the moment; accept that the thoughts that overwhelm you when you drive are not only likely useless, but may get you killed. Our modern world tends to pelt us with distractions that claim to be urgent; whether you feel the need to catch up with a friend or the news, know that it’s better to be a smart driver than someone capable of hitting all the most relevant talking points at a cocktail party.

Understand the Limitations of Your Attention

A good driver knows that his or her attention is limited in power, and thus a particular proportion of it needs to be attributed to driving in order for the driver (and potential passengers) to remain safe. Concentration often flees from efforts to evoke it as it needs to be attracted to a task, so look for ways to remain interested in the act of driving; maybe attempt to brake as little as possible and drive as gas efficiently as possible. This can keep your mind on the road by being fueled by the understanding that you’re trying to save gas.

car radioKnow the Most Common Distractors

If you’re a big radio fan, just be sure that you understand all the controls enough that you won’t have to take your eyes off the road to operate it. Also, if your car has in-wheel controls be sure to use those. If you plan on carting around your pets, try to keep them in carriers or outfit them in seatbelts so that they can be restrained and in control; you could easily crash your car if you have to turn around and manage your animal. Put your children in car seats if necessary and teach them the importance of not distracting you while driving.