People have to think of distracted driving as an issue that affects other people. In fact, research shows that while people believe distracted driving is dangerous, many people still believe that they can safely text while driving.

There are many ways that carrying your phone in your car could distract you. Examining your own attitude about distraction in a vehicle can help you improve your driving practices and keep you as safe as possible.

Do you use your phone with a hands-free alternative?

Many people think that as long as they use a hands-free system, they can text or talk as much as they want in their car. Unfortunately, the danger of texting and driving or using a phone while driving doesn’t just stem from taking your hands off the wheel to type a message or looking down at your phone.

Mental distraction also plays a crucial role in the danger of distraction. In other words, just because you are hands-free doesn’t mean you’re safe. Of course, those who manually text or hold their phone in hand while driving are in an even more precarious position when it comes to their safety.

Do you put your phone down but leave your ringtone on?

Choosing not to handle your phone at all while driving is obviously a safer choice than causally texting or using a hands-free system. Still, your phone could mentally distract you even if you don’t actually reach for it.

If you hear notifications going off, you may start mentally analyzing, trying to determine who might have messaged you. Turning your ringer off on your phone and placing it in the passenger seat or in the backseat of your vehicle where you can’t see the screen if it lights up helps keep your mind completely off your phone while you’re driving.

The less you think about your phone while in control of a vehicle, the safer you will be. If you encounter someone who has not taken the same safety precautions and you suffer an injury or property damage in a distraction-related crash, you may need to negotiate an insurance claim or bring a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.