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A recent survey found that 54% of people check their smart phones while driving. We are over one year into Oregon’s ban on talking and texting while driving and the sight of drivers gabbing on cell phones is still a common sight around Portland.  

In a recent University of Utah study of driving and talking on the phone, only 2.5% of test subjects were able to do both safely. For the other 97.5%, the ability to hit the brakes quickly was slowed by 20%, and the tendency to drive too slowly to keep up with traffic rose by 30%. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008 were caused by driver distraction. Think you are able to multitask behind the wheel? Gauge your level of distraction.  When you are done, you will see how much slower your reaction time was while texting compared to the average driver. If you have kids who think they can text or talk on the phone while driving, have them take the test.

CareerBuilder.com offers the following tips to keep your eyes on the road and off of your smart phone:

Turn off your phone when driving. Talking on the phone or texting at the wheel is illegal and dangerous to you, your passengers and other motorists and pedestrians. Pull over if you need to talk or text.

Set priorities. Part of the problem comes from the current trend toward being accessible outside the workplace. Discuss the situation with your employer (and your family) so everyone understands that you can’t always be connected.

Have a backup. If you anticipate being needed outside the office, leave an out-of-office message on your voice mail, and provide contact information for colleagues who can assist callers in your absence. That way, urgent calls can be taken care of even if you don’t answer the phone.

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