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Dangers of Distracted Driving

August 17, 2010

Pop quiz: What's the most dangerous activity to perform while driving?
A. Drinking a cup of coffee
B. Texting
C. Changing music
D. All of the above

Answer: D. All of the above. Taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off driving can lead to fatal crashes. Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and a huge number—more than 500,000—were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In fact, driving while distracted is roughly equivalent to driving drunk, according to a recent editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine. Distractions endanger drivers, passengers, other motorists and pedestrians.

Don't Text and Drive

Texting on a cell phone or a handheld device is the most alarming practice because it involves all three types of distraction: visual, mental and manual. Research suggests drivers who use handheld devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. A texting ban is in place in 32 states across the U.S.

To stay safe on the road, avoid all of these distracting activities:

  • Using a cell phone—including a hands-free device
  • Texting
  • Talking to passengers. For teen drivers, the more passengers in the car, the higher the chances of distraction.
  • Grooming (e.g., putting on makeup, shaving, combing your hair, etc.)
  • Eating and drinking (e.g., a cup of coffee, sandwich, etc.)
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system, such as a GPS
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player

Also, adopt these safe driving practices from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

  1. Plan Ahead: Read maps and check traffic conditions before you get on the road.
  2. Stow electronic devices: Turn off your phone and other devices before you drive so you won't be tempted to use them while on the road.
  3. Stash loose gear and possessions that could roll around and distract you.
  4. Prepare the kids. Get the kids buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving.
  5. Pull over to talk on the phone or send a text, or to care for the kids.
  6. Finish dressing before you get in the car. Brush your hair, shave, put on make-up and tie your necktie before you leave home or once you reach your destination.
  7. Get your brain in gear. Focus on driving safely. Scan the road, use mirrors and practice identifying orally what you just saw—There's a black car in my blindspot—to enhance your engagement as a driver.

Making an effort to focus on the road, staying watchful for hazards, and keeping both hands on the wheel can help improve your overall awareness and driving behavior—and can protect you, your loved ones, and everyone else using the roadway from injury and harm.

Sources:, a website of the U.S. Department of Transportation;
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

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Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

August 17, 2010

Want to give your mind and body a boost? Whirl up this delicious smoothie from Super-charged Smoothies by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford. It's made with luscious blueberries and raspberries and nutty walnuts—foods chock full of good-for-you nutrients, such as antioxidants and omega-3s.

Blueberry Smoothie
Serves 2

Blueberries are a superfood: they’re packed with antioxidants that may help protect you from disease. Walnuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

1 cup fresh-pressed apple juice
1 fresh ripe banana
1½ cup frozen blueberries
½ cup frozen raspberries
¼ cup raw walnuts, preferably soaked and drained

Combine the apple juice and banana in a blender. Add the blueberries, raspberries and walnuts. Blend until smooth.

Reproduced from Super-charged Smoothies by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford (Chronicle Books).

Nutrition Per Serving
Calories 334
Total Fat 10g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 6mg
Total Carbohydrates 61.6g
Dietary Fiber 8.1g
Sugars 45.3g
Protein 5.7g
Vitamin C 130%
Iron 10%

Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper and Arugula Pasta

April 30, 2010

Who doesn't love pasta tossed with great olive oil instead of a thick sauce? Roasted fennel is sweet and soft, a great contrast to tangy feta and olives. Use your best, most flavorful olive oil.

2 large fennel bulbs
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and chopped
Zest of one large lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounce arugula, washed and chopped
8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 ounces feta cheebse, crumbled
½ cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Clean the fennel. Cut each bulb into 4 vertical pieces and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Discard the stalks. Chop the tips of the leaves to make ½ cup and set aside. In a large roasting pan, toss the fennel pieces, bell pepper and lemon zest with 2 tablespoons the olive oil and cover tightly with foil. Roast, covered, until tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes, then roast for 10 minutes more uncovered. Stir in the arugula and cover to wilt. Let cool.
  2. Cook the pasta and drain. Whisk the remaining two tablespoons olive oil with the lemon juice in a small cup. In the pasta pot or a large bowl, toss the pasta with the fennel mixture, reserved fennel greens, feta, olives, lemon mixture, salt and pepper. Serve hot or cool.

Reproduced from New Vegetarian by Robin Asbell (Chronicle Books).

Nutrition Per Serving
*To reduce the sodium, use less cheese and fewer olives in your pasta.

Total fat—22.9 g
Saturated fat—6.4 g
Cholesterol—25 mg
Sodium—836 mg
Carbohydrate—55.3 g
Sugars—3.8 g
Fiber—11.7 g
Protein—16 g
Vitamin C—126%
Vitamin A—49%

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This page last modified: 06 Dec 2010

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