How to Fight Distracted Driving Habits

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is key for reviewing and adjusting our current driving attitudes and habits, as necessary.

While smartphones have made it easy for us to stay connected at all times, they can pose serious safety risks for those who decide to check their text messages, emails, phone calls, or any other mobile applications while driving.

Cell phone distraction rates are alarmingly high. That’s why it’s best to ignore all of these possible connections when you’re on the road.

According to the CDC, each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. That’s why distracted driving increases the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

 There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Distracted driving activities also include eating, putting on makeup, and adjusting radios, in addition to smartphone related activity.  Using in-vehicle technologies (such as GPS) can also be a source of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.

Texting While Driving Statistics – From National Safety Council

  • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field.
  • Texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
  • Of all cell phone related tasks, texting is by far the most dangerous activity.
  • 94% of drivers support a ban on texting while driving.

Teen Driver Cell Phone Statistics

What about teen drivers? Even though teens recognize that talking or texting on a cell phone or using social media apps while driving is unsafe, they often do so.

  • 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.
  • According to an AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers know the dangers of texting and driving. Yet, 35% admitted to doing it anyway.
  • 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.
  • Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.
  • A teen driver with only one additional passenger doubles the risk of getting into a fatal car accident. With two or more passengers, they are 5x as likely.

Safety tips to help break distracted driving, thus keeping you safer:

  1. Before you start driving, choose your playlist or radio station.
  2. Turn the sound off on your phone – even turn off vibrate, if you can – this way, you won’t be distracted incoming messages.
  3. Give yourself a visual reminder, like a brightly colored rubber band wrapped around part of your steering wheel to remind you to only focus on driving, and nothing else.
  4. In using a GPS, use a hands free GPS, or familiarize yourself with your route before you set off.
  5. Use an app to collect your incoming messages, so you won’t be tempted to check in while driving.

Take back control of your driving, and that includes the National Safety Council pledge below:

I pledge to Take Back My Drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose not to drive distracted in any way – I will not:

  • Have a phone conversation while driving – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
  • Text or send Snapchats
  • Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
  • Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media
  • Check or send emails
  • Take selfies or film videos
  • Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
  • Call or message someone else when I know they are driving

When you’re behind the wheel of a car – whether alone or with passengers – make driving safely your top priority.

 

Remember the Health Power motto:  Knowledge + Action = Power!

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