Prevent Distracted Driving
Why distracted driving is a problem — and what you can do to prevent it.Here are some sobering stats: Distracted driving leads to the death of nine people in the U.S. every day, according to The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). And personal safety company, SafeStart reports that 25% of all car crashes are a result of people looking away from the road.
Unfortunately, those numbers may not tell the whole story because distracted driving is vastly underreported. Many of us drive while briefly focusing our attention elsewhere. In fact, DoSomething.org, a social change organization, reports that 19% of drivers admit to surfing the web while driving. And according to the CDC, taking your eyes off the road for as little as five seconds is long enough to drive the length of an entire football field.
Cell phone use, specifically texting, while driving is one of the leading causes of distracted driving. Although looking at a smartphone to type is an obvious risk, many of us continue to do it. Even worse, when children and teens see their parents engaging in this type of behavior, it downplays the danger.
It’s clear that you shouldn’t text and drive at the same time, but there are some gray areas that need clarification. Many people consider texting at a red light to be safer, however you’re still in control of a powerful vehicle weighing several thousand pounds. Distraction can cause you to ease up your pressure on the brake and lead you to roll into oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
Even hands-free voice-to-text devices can lead to accidents. One study suggested that drivers using hands-free devices were three times as distracted as someone who was driving with no distractions or just listening to the radio.
Bad News Beyond Cell Phones
But texting and smartphone usage aren’t the only reasons drivers are taking their eyes off the road. Other issues that lead to distracted driving include:
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup at red lights
- Changing the channel on the radio
- Attending to children or pets
- Taking photos or posting to social media
- Programming an address into a GPS
Put an End to Distracted Driving
Distracted driving might seem like a simple problem to fix, but bad habits are hard to break. Even though we know better, checking a smartphone or briefly attending to something else while driving seems like it’s not that dangerous. That makes distracted driving a difficult issue to combat.
Here’s what you can do:
- Prepare: Always take a few moments to make sure you have everything you need before you begin driving. Put the address in the GPS, select the playlist you’ll listen to, and situate your drink in the cup holder next to you in case you need it.
- Turn off all cell phone notifications: Many smartphones have a “Do Not Disturb” setting you can enable when driving. Turn this feature on instead of trusting yourself to not look at an incoming call or text.
- Tend to passengers: Make sure children and animals are secure in the vehicle and have everything they need for the ride.
- Delegate: Ask passengers to help with any issues that may come up, such as needing to put a new address into a GPS, changing the radio, or making calls. Similarly, if you are a passenger and you see a driver going for their cell phone or looking away from the road, ask what you can do to help.
How do you prevent yourself and your family from driving while distracted? Tell us on Facebook or in the discussion!
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