How to Be Undistractable in the Car—4 Pro Tips for Ignoring Your Phone

We’ve all heard the spiel: it’s dangerous to drive while distracted and you shouldn’t do it. But that's all just talk. You hear it everywhere, right? How do you actually make the change?

Here are 4 concrete tips Root drivers have found to be helpful:

1. Choose a time frame and commit, dangit.

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So, the first step is to realize we have a problem (“Hello, my name is…”) and to commit to making a change—a concrete change. That means picking an amount of time (at least 3 weeks, according to science) and going cold turkey. Phone in a bag or in the backseat. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Look, we're drivers, too. We get it: it’s really hard to break a habit, especially when you’ve gotten away with it so far. That’s why setting a specific time limit is key. Once you set a specific amount of time to completely detox from phone use while driving, make the pledge—to yourself, your friends, on social media, online with National Safety Council or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or wherever. But do it. Make the commitment.

2. Prep your driving entertainment in advance.

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Think about it: how many times have you needed to fiddle with your phone when your entertainment ended mid-drive? Yep. The night before work, create a playlist or two that covers your commute. Or, before turning your car on, choose a podcast that will get you all the way to your destination.

(Need a playlist to get you started? Check out this one from the Root team.)

However you do it, a little extra effort beforehand can help you avoid a mid-drive entertainment emergency that will leave you diving for your phone.

That brings us to...

3. Create a 2 minute pre-driving ritual that works for you.

You’ve done it with your seatbelt (we hope!). You can do it with other safety measures, too. What else do you need to do before you shift into drive mode? Look up directions or parking info, plug your auxiliary in, start your audio, hit go on GPS?

Create a new habit: Do all those things before you start driving. Every time.

We know this isn’t easy to remember, especially at the beginning. But after a few weeks, it’ll become routine and you won’t even think about it anymore.

The most important habit? Turning your phone off or storing it elsewhere before you drive. Lock it in the trunk, put it in the glove box, throw it under your seat—get creative.

4. Get technology on your side.

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Don’t trust yourself quite yet? Understood. Thankfully, technology has some tricks up its sleeves. Settings on iOS 11 and some Android phones allow you to enable a Do Not Disturb feature that prevents notifications from coming through while you’re driving. You can customize settings, including an auto reply to texts, or even allow the sender to push an urgent message through.

Want more options? There’s an app for that. Tons of free ones, even. They range from automatically silencing your phone while you’re driving to updating your friends about where you are on your route. There’s even an app that turns off your phone entirely when your car is in motion, with a password required to operate it (talk about parental control).

Bottom line: this transition can be brutal. But if notifications aren’t coming through while you’re driving, the temptation to pick up the phone will decrease.

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It’s not easy in this digital world to stay away from your one-and-only phone. We know. We're a tech company and we certainly love our devices. But the stats for distracted driving aren't pretty and we'd all like to stay alive—so let's resolve to do something, yeah?

Already a fantastic, undistractable driver? Awesome. Download the Root app and get a rate based primarily on your great driving habits.

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