The United States Department of Transportation has proclaimed April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
There are three distinct types of distracted driving: physical, visual, and audial/cognitive. Physical distractions involve taking one's hands off the wheel and include eating, drinking, changing the radio/GPS, applying make-up, reaching for items in car, children and pets.
Visual distractions involve taking one's eyes off the road and include texting, emailing, dialing, reading, looking at the radio/GPS, and watching movies. Audial or cognitive distractions involve taking one’s mind off the road and include talking on phone, car conversations, books on tape, music, etc.
The most popular and dangerous form of distracted driving is texting while driving.
This distraction continues to be a growing issue that puts not only the “texter” at risk of being in an accident, but also passengers and innocent bystanders. Texting and driving makes it 23 times more likely that an accident will occur.
Some studies now show that texting and driving is equivalent to driving after drinking four beers. In 2012, about 1.3 million crashes involved cell phones. Teens are the most likely to text while driving, with approximately 77% of teens having admitted to texting while driving.
The following practices are recommended to drive safely and avoid being distracted.
- Turn off, silence, or hide your cell phone from your view while you are driving so you do not become distracted by it.
- Set-up your smart phone to text for you while you are driving if you feel you cannot let someone wait to hear back from you. Many smartphone applications can send messages to incoming text messages that automatically say “I am driving, I will get back to you later”, or any message you choose to use.
- Have a fellow passenger do your texting for you while you are driving.
- If you are not driving, but you are texting someone who you know is, stop texting them until you know they have reached their destination safely.
- If you are in a vehicle and the driver is distracted, do not hesitate to ask them to put their focus on driving. Remember, it is your life too. Suggest the driver park in a safe location to text, or offer to drive for them if you can.
- Always remember…NO TEXT MESSAGE IS WORTH A LIFE.
Distracted driving crashes are 100% preventable. Working together, we can all help reduce driver distraction, save lives, and prevent injuries.
For more information on the hazards of texting and driving, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.distraction.gov.