Ever apply your makeup, run the electric shaver over your five o'clock shadow, or fuss with your hair while driving? If so, you may be guilty of putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk, just for the sake of saving a few minutes.
Life is hectic. Work, family, school, and community obligations don't often leave time for much else. When you're running behind, it can be tempting to sneak a few seconds to freshen your face or hair behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, even a few seconds of distraction can have devastating and lasting consequences, and personal grooming is one of the most dangerous types of driver distractions.
Like texting, personal grooming requires taking your eyes off the road, at least one hand off the wheel, and your attention from the task of driving safely. When this happens, you'll need nearly twice as long to react to potential hazards—such as an oncoming vehicle, an animal or stopped car in the roadway, or a sudden merger or lane change. This could result in serious accidents, injuries, and deaths.
In fact, nine percent of fatal accidents involve some form of distraction, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
While the stereotype points to women, men are equally guilty of engaging in grooming behaviors behind the wheel, whether shaving off the morning stubble, fixing their hair, or checking for crumbs in their beard.
It's important to note that children and teens who see their parents taking part in these types of distracted driving behaviors are two to four times as likely to also drive distracted. Even worse, they are more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking, more likely to drink and drive themselves, and less likely to wear a seatbelt.
Crashes caused by drivers distracted with preening are growing—but preventable—problems. To avoid fussing with your appearance while behind the wheel, consider simplifying your grooming routine, getting up a few minutes early to allow more time to get ready, or waiting until you've safely reached your destination.