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Driver distractions: beyond electronic devices

Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle in California is a big responsibility, and whether a person is planning to travel across the state or make a short trip to the local supermarket, there is always the risk of a crash. The likelihood of a motor vehicle accident increases dramatically when the driver is distracted.

According to Distraction.gov, cell phones are far from being the only diversions that may reduce a driver's ability to navigate the vehicle safely. In fact, anything that leads a person to take one or both hands off the steering wheel, glance away from the road or even just think about something other than the task of driving is a safety hazard.

A recent survey by Erie Insurance reveals that drivers engage in a wide variety of distracting activities. For example, many people reported that they have spent time on grooming while on the road. This could involve taking a single hand off the wheel to brush or comb hair, but 8 percent of respondents admit that they applied makeup, and 9 percent changed clothes while driving. Dental hygiene is another apparently common activity for drivers to engage in, with 4 percent reporting that they brush or floss their teeth on their travels.

When it comes to interacting with other people in the vehicle, some respondents stated that they have changed drivers without stopping, and 15 percent said they have had physical romantic contact with another person in the vehicle. Nearly 2,000 drivers over the age of 17 participated in this online survey.

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