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Oftentimes, drivers lose track of the road without even realizing it. They let thoughts or conversations they have use up their mental focus and impact their ability to focus on driving.

You might be a driver who faces these kinds of interruptions, also known as cognitive distractions. Since an accident can unfold in a matter of seconds, it’s important to recognize what a cognitive distraction looks like and how to avoid them.

Here are three ways to be more conscious of and reduce mental distractions:

  1. Feel out conversations

Engaging in a conversation may make you blind to upcoming hazards. A conversation takes up mental energy to both put together thoughts you want to vocalize and absorb information from the other participants. It’s important to track your attention level as you engage in conversation both in-person and via hands-free technology. And you shouldn’t feel rude about not taking a call or avoiding talking to those in your car when you know your driving will suffer.

  1. Monitor technology use

Hands-free functions allow you to change music or compose text messages without lifting your hands off the wheel or looking away. But that doesn’t mean that using hands-free commands won’t hinder you. One research study backed by the AAA Foundation reveals that there are levels to mental distractions. The study findings show that listening to music is a mild danger, hands-free phone calls are a moderate danger and using your voice to send out text messages is a high danger. It’s essential to understand that using this technology can seriously divide your attention. And you should only use complex functions while your car isn’t in motion.

  1. Clear your mind

Driving solo and without any use of electronic devices or features can still come with distractions. Daydreaming or planning out your day or dinner in your head can make it difficult to concentrate on your surroundings. Instead of using driving as a time to let your thoughts run, try to keep your mind clear and use other points during your day to map out short- and long-term plans.

While having conversations and letting your imagination run wild can be healthy exercises, the ideal place for it isn’t on the middle of a highway while operating a motor vehicle.