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Watching out for distracted drivers this holiday travel season

With more people hitting the road, it's important to discuss the dangers of distracted driving.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A survey conducted by Cars.com found more people are driving than flying this Thanksgiving due to growing frustration with delays and skyrocketing ticket prices.

But experts are warning you to watch out for distracted drivers, and don’t be one yourself.

“Distraction is really considered any activity that diverts your attention from the task of driving, texting, phoning, scrolling through social media, eating and drinking," said Joan Woodward, president of Travelers Institute, "and we also found that people are actively shopping online actually buying something online while they're driving. So you can't see that construction worker or that pedestrian when you're engaged in distracted driving."

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While almost all states ban texting and driving, we know that doesn’t always stop people. But setting up helpful tools ahead of time can make you less likely to reach for your phone when you’re behind the wheel.

“Set your GPS before you start your journey, activate that do not disturb on your cell phone. And if you have to make a call or text pull over at a rest stop or someplace safe to do that,” said Woodard.

Not being distracted can even put money in your pocket. Many insurance companies will pay you for being a good driver.

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“Companies offer apps for individual drivers to download. Those drivers that choose to enroll in these programs, then receive feedback on how safe they're driving," said Ryan McMahon, senior vice president of Cambridge Mobile Telematics. "If they're using their phone while they're driving, or they're following too close and have too many heartbreaking incidents or excessive speeding, they get feedback on that information. But just for enrolling in these programs, drivers are receiving intensive. These are significant amounts of money, $200 every six months, every 12 months depending on the policy period."

Cars.com found while many people left the weekend before Thanksgiving, 28% of travelers will be heading to their destination on Thanksgiving Day. They’ll also be heading out before noon, so expect more people on the road during those morning hours.

Contact Carolyn Bruck at cbruck@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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