Because it does not involve a foreign substance, many drivers are under the impression that distracted driving is a far less egregious offense than drunk driving. The facts show it is not.
At any given moment, nearly 700,000 American drivers are using a cell phone or some other form of handheld, electronic device. This means that at any given moment, nearly 700,000 American drivers are 4 times more likely to get into a serious accident and injure themselves. Much of this augmented risk is attributable a significant decrease in focus. Driving while using reduces the amount of brain activity normally associated with driving by 37%.
The effects of distracted driving are even more pronounced for young drivers. Of all fatal crashes involving drivers under the age of twenty-one, 11% were distracted at the time of the crash. This unusually high figure seems proportionate to teen cell-phone use. In a recent study, 25% of teens admitted to answering a text message at least once every time they driver. Moreover, 20% reported having engaged in an extended, multi-message conversation while driving.
As with any serious social problem, great strides must be made to find a solution. Legislation, though certainly a large step in the right direction, can only do so much. The rest is left up to you. Here are a few basic steps you can take to help curtail distracted driving.
Be smart. Don’t text and drive.
Be courteous. Care about your friends and family. Don’t send a message or call them if you know they are driving.
Be in control. Remember: it’s your phone. You can take control by turning it off while driving.
Be an example. Whether you are with friends or family, remember that people are watching you. Make it a habit of not driving with your cell phone on.
If everyone elects to follow these simple tips, we will go a long way in improving driver safety. Remember: it takes two to text. Don’t put those you love at risk by enabling distracted driving.