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Apply Make-up While Driving? It's More Dangerous Than You Think

By Essilor News

Can't help but use your rear-view mirror or visor mirror as a mini vanity in the morning or on the way to a date? If you're applying mascara behind the wheel, you could be jeopardizing your health and safety.

According to, the U.S. Government's website dedicated solely to distracted driving (in addition to texting or talking, putting on make-up while driving is considered distracted driving), more than 3,000 people were killed in 2011 as a result of crashes involving a distracted driver. While that number might not seem high, an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. The government doesn't track deaths and injuries related only to mascara, but experts say it's a definite no-no.

An alert driver needs 1.5 seconds to react to something that happens on the roads says Stephanie Schwartz, owner of Roadrunner Traffic School, an Arizona Supreme Court certified Defensive Driving program. So if you're cruising along the highway driving 60mph, Schwartz says you'll travel 132 feet to react to a stopped car, animal in the path, car that merges or changes lanes suddenly, etc.

"Putting on make-up while driving, along with any other distracting activities, doubles the reaction time a driver needs to be put their foot on the brake," says Schwartz. At the necessary 3 seconds to react to something in the road, road condition or fellow drivers, Schwartz says a driver going 60 mph will travel 264 feet between the time they spot an obstacle and put their foot on the brake. "That's nearly two thirds of a football field," she says.

Reflecting on the danger

Putting on make-up in the car can also make it tough to spot dangers sneaking up on you from behind.

"Women putting on makeup while driving often adjust the rear-view mirror toward them and then use it to view their make-up," says Schwartz.

That significantly reduces your ability to scan traffic behind you and notice if you're being tailgated, a car is speeding up on you and you should move over, or if emergency vehicle are approaching from behind.

"An improperly placed rear-view mirror also disrupts your peripheral vision because you constantly have moving items, cars or scenery from your side, reflected in the mirror."

Even if you steer clear of using your rear-view mirror, you're still in danger.

"Women who don't use the rear-view mirror often using the mirror in their sunshade. That requires having the visor pulled all the way down and blocks part of the vision and ability to view all the road conditions," says Schwartz.

Eyeing a health hazard

Even if you manage to escape being stopped for distracted driving or dodge getting into an accident, applying mascara in the car isn't a good idea.

There is of course, always the possibility of needing to stop quickly, or having a collision which could result in the mascara wand piercing an eye or causing a serious injury.

Your best bet: spend the extra few minutes in front of the mirror in your bathroom to arrive at your destination safe and looking great.