Distracted Driving: It Can Happen to You
Have you ever been distracted while driving? Chances are you have. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention away from the primary task of driving, which can include texting, using a cell phone, eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, using navigation, talking to passengers, tending to your children in the backseat and much more. Distracted driving can have tragic repercussions and anyone can be the victim, or the perpetrator.
In early October 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that traffic deaths rose 10.4% in the first half of 2016 over 2015! This translates to 1,665 more deaths than last year. With traffic death increases of 7% in 2015 over 2014 as well, the overall trend emergence is clear.
The following are some additional, and alarming distracted driving statistics which are contributing to these overall traffic fatalities:
- According to distraction.gov, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2014
- As of December 2014, 169.3 billion text messages were sent in the United States every month
- Drivers in their 20s are only 23% of drivers when looking at all fatal crashes, but are 27% of distracted drivers involved in an accident and 38% of distracted drivers using a cell phone in a fatal crash
- According to icebike.org, more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. are involved in road accidents each year, and of these, 1.6 million have a cell phone involved in some way
- 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States are caused by texting while driving
Did you know the average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds? If traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field. If you’re taking your eyes off the road for the length of a football field, minor car damage is the least of your worries; Legal penalties, major injuries and even death can occur.
However, it’s not all bad news. Many states are making an effort to keep the roadways safe by minimizing distracted driving through putting different laws in place which limit cell phone usage and more. Each state has their own distracted driving laws, as may your town or city, so make sure you are aware of the laws in your area before you hit the road.
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Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
While it may seem like an insurmountable feat to avoid distracted driving, here are some tips you can employ to avoid the biggest offenders:
- Do not use your cell phone. If you must, try using a hands-free device and only text or email when stopped. Try keeping your cell phone in the backseat or the trunk so you aren’t tempted to use it.
- Adjust the radio, navigation, or heating and air conditioning only when stopped.
- If your child is crying or you need to tend to them in the back seat, pull over.
- Never turn around completely to talk to passengers or children in the back seat.
- Do not eat or drink while driving.
- Avoid multi-tasking – don’t put on makeup or groom yourself in the car. It’s better to be late than involved in a serious accident!
- As a rule of thumb, if you know it will take your attention away from the road, take care of it before getting behind the wheel or when you are safely stopped.
In addition, we recently shared some other cell phone safety tips. Do your best to use common sense and stay safe: if it takes your eyes off the road, don’t do it! Stay safe, drivers.