How to Avoid Distracted Driving and Car Thefts

It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. GEICO is offering advice to stop distracted driving and auto thefts.

GEICO requests that you please don’t go mobile in your vehicle. If your smartphone becomes too tempting to resist, take extra steps to keep it out of sight and earshot. Start by switching it to silent, and stash it in the glove compartment or even the trunk.

While smartphones can clearly be a big distraction, here are some other habits that also cause distractions:

  • The mind wanderer: Time behind the wheel can sometimes start to drag, making it easy to let your mind drift off to other things. When you start trying to think of items you need at the grocery store or household chores you need to do, your level of attention to the road drops considerably. A wandering mind can lead to a sort of tunnel vision that causes drivers to miss common objects.
  • The passenger palooza: Loud conversations and horseplay are fine for a party, but bad news in the car. In fact, a study from NHTSA noted that passengers were the top source of distractions for drivers. Keep things calm during your ride time and plan to have more fun once you park.
  • The “car”-tographer: Getting lost can draw the ire of nearly any driver. If you need to check Google maps or program a destination into your GPS, pull off to a safe spot to do it.

GEICO thinks it’s worth repeating: “Go mobile anytime, just not in your car.

Here are some ways GEICO recommends to help you protect your vehicles:

  • Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving.
  • When parked, never leave your keys in the car. Close all the windows and the sunroof.
  • Never leave your car running and unattended, including at gas stations and in your own driveway.
  • Do not leave your vehicle title in the car. Too often car thieves are pulled over and get away from police because they can produce the auto registration.
  • Look around and be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots and gas stations.
  • Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn’t have one.
  • Have your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on each of the windows. Car thieves don’t want to go to the expense of replacing all the glass.

Most importantly, never resist if confronted by a carjacker; while cars are replaceable, you are not.

After experiencing a steady decline in the early 2000s, auto thefts have seen an uptick. In 2015, there were just under 708,000 vehicle thefts nationwide. There were more than 750,000 in 2016. Preliminary FBI figures indicate that thefts rose another 4 percent in 2017.