Distracted driving is one of the top traffic safety issues for concerned drivers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
A real phenomenon with deadly consequences, distracted driving leads to about 5,000 deaths each year.
Studies have shown that teens are the most affected by distracted driving. An AAA Foundation study has shown that teens drive distracted almost 25% of the time and are the most impaired by the distractions.
So what are the major culprits at the heart of all of this distracted driving? Electronics. Electronic devices such as cell phones and MP3 players play a significant role in distracted driving incidents.
The article below from wikiHow discusses five ways to avoid distracted driving. While some of these steps may seem like no-brainers, a lot of people have a difficult time letting go of their electronics for even a short drive. However, it is better to avoid cell phone use than get into a serious car accident.
Distracted driving, or, driving while distracted (dwd) is frequently in the news, in the legislature and on everyone’s mind. The US Department of Transportation held a two-day Distracted Driving Summit in September 2009. Canada held an International Conference on Distracted Driving. “Distracted driving” is even Webster’s New World College Dictionary 2009 Word of the Year. What is distracted driving? Webster’s defines it as “use of a cell phone or other portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle”.
What can you do to avoid distracted driving?
- Turn off your cell phone/pager/dvd player/other device. The best way to avoid being distracted by your phone or device is simply to turn it off and put it away while you are behind the wheel.
- If you cannot turn your phone off due to family or work reasons, use a hands-free device. Although this solution does not eliminate distraction, it will allow you to respond without having to look away from the road or remove your hands from the wheel.
- If you leave your phone or device on while in the car and receive a call or text you feel compelled to answer, pull off to the side of the road before doing so.
- Ask a passenger to handle calls for you. This will leave your hands free and engage less of your attention.
- Install software on your phone that automatically starts when you drive, and responds to calls and texts on your phone with a message that you are driving and will get back to the caller later.
- Some companies now offer phones with safe driver software already installed. This software comes on automatically when you start driving and sends automated responses to phone calls and texts, telling the caller that you are driving and will respond when it’s safe.
- Before you answer your phone or text while driving, be aware of the state and city laws and ordinances about the same. Many cities have already made it illegal to text and drive.
- Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
- Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
While the majority of people these days believe that they are proficient in multi-tasking, when it comes to distracted driving, this is simply not the case. And even outside of distracted driving, this is usually not the case. While we’ve been lead to believe that multi-tasking is the way to get it all done, the fact of the matter is a brain cannot multi-task. The human brain will shift rapidly back and forth between activities, but it cannot be focused on more than one activity at a time.
So what does this mean for distracted drivers? It means that it would be in their best interest to turn off the distracting culprits while driving and simply learn to just be present. The world is not going to end if you are unable to answer your phone for a short while. And if you must fiddle with your MP3 player, then pull your car over to do so. Ask anyone who has lost a loved one in a distracted driving accident, or ask someone who has been in a serious crash due to distracted driving, if the consequences are worth the risk. You will hear a resounding NO.
So what can you do if you’ve been in a distracted driving accident and are facing charges for the incident? Contacting a reputable, experienced attorney with experience in driving while distracted (dwd) cases is a good first step. The attorneys at Revelli & Luzzo in Worcester, Massachusetts, have that experience. Contact us for a free consultation and together we will determine your next steps.
Have you been involved in a distracted driving accident? Have you experienced a distracted driving close call? Are you concerned with distracted drivers on the road? We would love to hear your thoughts.