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A moment’s distraction can cause disaster if it happens at the wrong time – for example, while you are behind the wheel. Federal and state agencies continue to stress the importance of maintaining focus throughout every second of our drive.

While sometimes distractions can arise unpredictably, you can reduce your risks by addressing potential major sources before you get on the road.

Eliminate phone use

Today, smartphones offer one of the most powerful temptations to take your eyes off the road. In Washington state, the law forbids drivers from holding their phone in their hands at all, including while stopped at a light. However, even hands-free use can lead to focusing on your conversation or music selection instead of your surroundings. For optimal safety, put away your phone and turn off notifications so you will not feel the need to just quickly check that text.

If you need your phone for directions, one option is to instead purchase a dedicated GPS device. Another is to program and check your route before you leave and put on voice directions so you will not need to look at the screen. Using a secure dashboard mount can save you from scrambling to pick up your phone if it falls during the drive.

Think ahead

Traveling with children or pets? Anticipate their needs to the extent you can. Secure pets with approved harnesses or crates to stop them from moving around the vehicle. Make sure children have snacks and entertainment, as necessary. Then make up your mind that whatever complaints you hear coming from the back seats constitute a far lesser emergency than the one likely to arise when you turn around to settle matters.

Watch out for distracted drivers

You can do everything right and still sustain an accident because another driver yielded to distraction. A distracted driver can still be negligent even if he or she did not break a specific law. If you were the victim of negligence on the road, you may be entitled to legal recourse for the damages you suffer.