At 8:00 a.m. you get in your car and begin the long slow drive to work. While you may have every intention of driving safely, within a matter of minutes you will have already checked the traffic patterns on your cellphone, made two phone calls, changed the car radio, and sipped on your coffee. You may not realize it, but you are a distracted driver.
Distracted driving is any activity which diverts a driver’s attention away from driving. A task that takes your focus off the road for a split second is considered distracted driving.
Some examples of common distractions include eating or drinking, using a GPS, adjusting the radio, putting on makeup, and talking to passengers. While all these activities can be dangerous when done while operating a car, the worst distraction, by far, is using a cell phone while driving. Recent studies have found that talking on the phone or sending a text message while driving quadruples your risk of being in an accident. Despite this staggering statistic, drivers continue to talk/text behind the wheel. In fact, at any given moment approximately 660,000 drivers are using their cellphones or manipulating an electronic device while driving.
Driving while distracted, even with the smallest of tasks, puts you and others at risk for serious bodily injury or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 a total of 3,328 people were killed as a result of an accident involving a distracted driver. Additionally, an estimated 387,000 people were killed in these types of crashes.
Generally, teens are the most likely to be distracted drivers and 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident. However, adults are not immune from this increasing epidemic or its consequences. Drivers in their 20 make up 27% of all distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes. Furthermore 10% of parents have admitted that they have extended, multi-message text conversation while driving.
Consequently, drivers of all ages must do their part to put an end to this senseless epidemic. The best way to end distracted driving is to educate everyone about its dangers. Passengers can also help to prevent drivers from driving distracted by offering to assist a driver who is attempting to multi-task behind the wheel. Finally, as a driver you can take more active steps such as turning off your cell phone, avoiding eating or drinking, and making changes to mirrors, seats, and GPS before beginning to drive.