As of recent I’ve been hearing the buzz words “distracted driving.” While the words seem to explain themselves, I wanted to dig a little deeper and find out more.
According to the U.S. Department of transportation, distracted driving is defined as; any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.
Here are a few examples of distracted driving:
- Use of a smart phone or cell phone; looking at texts, sending messages, making calls, receiving calls, changing music etc.
- Eating, reaching for food, and passing food to other passengers.
- Applying makeup or styling hair.
- Programing a GPS or navigation system.
- Trying to manage children.
- Pets roaming inside a vehicle.
- Taking off a coat or piece of clothing while driving.
- Reaching for an item across the vehicle.
I think we have all been guilty of distracted driving at one time or another. But again, why all the fuss, what’s the big deal? I didn’t hurt myself or anyone else while driving and munching on some hot McDonald’s fries, after all the fries are much better devoured hot rather than cold.
Well it turns out it is a big deal! Here are some shocking and rather persuasive statistics:
- Recent research has discovered that distraction “latency” lasts an average of 27 seconds, meaning that, even after drivers put down the phone or stop fiddling with the navigation system, drivers aren’t fully engaged with the driving task. (AAA Foundation)
- Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI)
- Text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. (Distraction.gov)
- Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. (NHTSA)
- A recent in-car study showed that teen drivers were distracted almost a quarter of the time they were behind the wheel. (AAA Foundation)
- In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. (Distraction.gov)
After reading these statistics I felt quite guilty for my distracted driving and eating hot fries in the car. Now I realize how dangerous distracted driving can be. I am happy to change my driving habit from here on out to keep others safe and to set a good example for my three kids who will one day grow to be teenage drivers themselves.
Follow these 5 easy tips to avoid distracted driving:
- Focus on driving. Remember your operating a large machine and it requires your full concentration. Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the steering wheel, use your mirrors, signal, and be a defensive driver.
- Avoid the use of smart phones, cell phones and technology while driving. Pre-set your devices before you start to drive. If you need to use or change a technical device, simply pull your vehicle over. REMEMBER NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING!
- Set your kids up for success before you start to drive. Make sure they have what they need and are buckled properly before hitting the road. If you need to manage your child while driving, pull over.
- Get your self situated before you start to drive. Make sure you’ll be comfortable while driving. For example; complete your daily grooming before you leave, make sure you have enough time to get to your destination, and remove your coat before hand.
- Don’t let other passengers distract you, this includes pets. Let passengers know if they are being distracting and make sure your pets are safely secured.
These tips are simple and when followed they help keep drivers, passengers, and others on the roadways safe. Let’s keep everyone safe, don’t be a distracted driver. Want to learn more, go to distraction.gov or aaa.foundation.org.