It seems like every time we turn on the news, we hear the same tragic story. Another story about a fatal accident that was caused by a distracted driver. Most of the time, when the news mentions distracted driving, your mind jumps to cell phone usage like texting or surfing the web while at a stop light, but the distractions don’t stop there.
“Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and Drinking
- Talking to Passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, or MP3 player.
But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.”
It’s important to be honest with ourselves when distracted driving is concerned. No one is perfect, everyone can admit to eating a few French fries in between destinations, or checking your GPS when you are lost, but the bottom line is still the same. Distracted driving kills people every day.
So, why do people still text and put on mascara behind the wheel?
Short answer, because they can. Long answer, because they think they are above the statistics and they believe that their reaction time is better than the average person. Unfortunately, no one is safe from distracted driving. Even if you are a perfect driver and are always distraction free, you are surrounded by drivers that are constantly checking their cell phone messages, navigation apps, or chowing down on a cheeseburger. Do you still like your odds?
So, what can I do as a teen/parent/driver/passenger?
Just drive. Make a promise to keep your cell phone in the glove box, in the center console, or in your handbag while you are driving. Wake up earlier and finish your mascara before you get in the car. As a teen driver, be more responsible. That text message can truly wait. Replying to someone’s LOL right away is a horrible reason to get into a car wreck.
As a parent, have a serious talk with the young drivers in your family about the dangers of distracted driving. There are plenty of resources online to help you have this talk with your teens. Check out www.distraction.gov for a few tips and infographics to show to your family. Make sure they understand that laws are changing all over the country and law enforcement agencies are cracking down on this dangerous habit.
As a passenger, have the confidence to speak up to a distracted driver! Your safety is at stake! If you are uncomfortable speaking up to a distracted driver, then offer to BE the driver! Problem solved.
One person CAN make a difference. BE that one person.