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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Everyone knows about the dangers that come with texting while driving. But what about devices that are meant for the car? GPS systems are specifically designed for in-vehicle use, and yet, they present major hazards to the driver. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, you’re three times as likely to get into a car accident while performing “visual-manual subtasks” on portable devices while driving (like texting or entering information into a GPS unit).

So what’s a driver to do? Read on for tips on how to get the most out of your GPS system while still driving safely.

Program Your Destination Before Driving
Before leaving your driveway or the parking lot, enter the address of your destination in your GPS device, or set it to find what you need. This way your eyes can stay on the road, where they should be, rather than on that little screen.

Be a Good Listener
Utilize the audio function on your device. Be sure the volume’s up high enough (that means enough to be heard over your music) and listen to the directions—don’t stare at the map on the screen. Focus on what’s ahead of you, so you aren’t drifting into the other lane or slamming on your brakes when you notice the car ahead of you has come to a halt.

Avoid Using Your Cell Phone’s GPS
You’re allowed to use your cell phone’s GPS functionality, but you’re better off using a regular navigation system. Cell phone screens are even smaller, and handheld devices are more difficult to adjust while driving. There’s a reason texting while driving is against the law in so many states. In fact, using GPS on your phone could get you a ticket, too! Some states, like California, have laws that make it illegal to use a handheld GPS system (like the GPS on your phone).

Pull Over to Make Adjustments
If you need to change your destination or any settings on your GPS, pull over or park somewhere before doing so. You’ll be juggling way too much if you try to type and watch the road at the same time, especially if your GPS is mounted on the windshield and it’s hard to reach. If you have passengers in the car with you, let them handle the navigation system so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Keep Your GPS System Updated
Not every GPS device updates automatically, so plan on taking care of map updates yourself at least once a year. It will eliminate confusion over directions that no longer apply, so you’re not holding up traffic while you figure out where you’re supposed to go—or worse.

The main takeaway is this: when you’re on the road, you should be paying attention to the road. Sure, you might be a little late to your destination if you stop to adjust your GPS or get a little lost, but it’s better than getting into a crash. Driving safely should always be your number one priority!

About the Author:
Kelly Larsen is a copywriter for I DRIVE SAFELY, the nation’s number one provider of online traffic school and driver’s education. With over 10 years’ experience in the field of safe driving, I DRIVE SAFELY has provided exceptional online courses to millions of new drivers, drivers looking to handle a traffic ticket and clear their diving record, or drivers looking to save money on auto insurance. To find out more or sign up, please visit http://www.idrivesafely.com/.

A study – http://www.vtti.vt.edu/featured/052913-cellphone.html

Or worse – http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2012/08/24/police-man-drives-into-harbor-after-gps-gives-him-wrong-directions/