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How many times have we dealt with a similar scenario to this:
You are headed into work or on a long trip and the phone goes off. In our world of smart technology, this could mean anything from a new text message, email, tweet, or BBM.
For many, the first reaction is to pick up their phone and reply. Really, it’s only a few seconds that your eyes are off the road. But sadly, that’s all it takes.
Distracted driving has become a serious problem in the United States.
According to Distraction.gov,
- 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).
- Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashed, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)
- In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. (FARS and GES)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah
Not totally convinced? On July 17, 2009, 21-year-old Casey Feldman was struck and killed by a distracted driver as she crossed the street in Ocean City, New Jersey. That same year, 17-year-old Alex Brown was killed when she crashed her truck on a rural road while she was on her way to school. She was texting at the time of the crash. (Distraction.gov)
Here are some helpful tips for managing some of the most common distractions while in the car:
- Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car.
- X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving.
- Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, or sign up for a service that offers this. If I’ve been texting before getting into my car, I let the receiver know in order to avoid the confusion as to why I'm not responding.
- Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
- Use your passengers. I get my friends to send text message replies for me all the time. They have nothing else to do, and it keeps them safe as well.
- Know the law. Not only is distracted driving dangerous, but it can cost you a pretty penny if you are caught violating state’s safety laws. Familiarize yourself with your own state and local laws.
- Prepare. Review maps and directions before you start to drive. Plug in your GPS before you put the car in gear.
- Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
Folks, let’s all be safe on the road, if not for our own safety, then for the safety of those driving and walking around us. The emails can wait. The texts can wait. If they can’t, pull over to reply. Let’s keep our eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and get home safe.
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