July is Cell Phone Courtesy MonthSmartphones are such an integral part of our modern culture that their ubiquity often makes us insensitive to how our cell phone usage affects others. Believe it or not, there is a whole month dedicated to the concept of cell phone courtesy. This July, remember that cell phones not only create the type of distraction that can cause auto accidents, your use of your smartphone can also be a nuisance to the people around you.

How can you use your device more consciously? Consider these tips from Jacqueline Whitmore, the etiquette expert credited with designating July as Cell Phone Courtesy Month:

  • Don't drive distracted. Distracted driving is a major cause of serious car accidents and injuries. Never text and drive. If you need to take a call, find a safe place to pull over and answer the call. Leave your phone out of sight and on silent so you aren't tempted to receive calls and texts.
  • Be present for the situation. Certain settings are not appropriate for cell phone use; meetings, board rooms, performances and restaurants chief among them. Let your calls go to voicemail in these situations.
  • Keep your cell phone conversations private. Even though your call may feel private, be aware that people around you can hear the details of what you're discussing. So don't talk about anything you wouldn't want strangers to know.
  • Don't get emotional during a public cell phone conversation. Getting angry on a cell phone call in public is not appropriate. Avoid embarrassing yourself and others by taking an emotional call in a private setting.
  • Use your phone's vibration mode. Ringtones can be one of the most disruptive things for people around you to experience. Use your vibe mode when you're out and about.
  • Don't cell yell. For some reason, cell yell is one of the easiest habits to slip into while you're on the phone. Be conscious that in just about every cell phone conversation, a normal face-to-face conversational volume is all that is needed for you to be understood.
  • Don't use your cell phone in places it's prohibited. Hospitals are one such example of a place where you should respect posted signs asking you not to talk on your cell phone. Step outside if you need to.

Being conscious of your cell phone use is not only a courtesy to other people around you, it could help you avoid auto accidents by allowing you to focus your full attention on the task of driving.