We often hear of the dangers of drunk driving, but what about a driver who is distracted? The most recent national statistics are sobering.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2014, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
- In 2014, there were 3,179 people killed and an estimated additional 431,000 people wounded in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
- At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
- Ten% of drivers aged 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal automobile accidents were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes.
- In 2014, there were 520 non-occupants killed in distraction-affected crashes.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reminds us to pay attention to several types of distractions listed below.
Manual distractions cause you to take one or both hands off of the wheel. Some examples include:
- Eating and drinking.
- Adjusting your child’s seatbelt.
- Searching through your purse or wallet.
- Turning knobs in your car.
Visual distractions cause your eyes to wander off of the road. For instance:
- Looking for items on the floor of the car.
- Checking and adjusting your GPS.
- Changing the radio station.
- Adjusting your temperature controls.
- Taking in the view.
- Doing your makeup.
Cognitive distractions cause your mind’s focus to drift away from your driving, including:
- Talking to another passenger.
- Thinking about something that is upsetting.
- Road rage.
- Being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Texting while driving is an especially dangerous habit, as it falls under all three types of distracted driving. While texting, you are distracted:
- Visuallyas you look at your phone rather than the road and cars around you.
- Manuallyas you type your messages rather than keep your hands on the wheel and ready to react.
- Cognitivelyas you concentrate on your conversation rather than the situation unfolding in your driving environment.
Take Control and End the Distractions
These statistics don’t have to continue. We can do our part in making the roads a safer place by eliminating distractions while driving. Keep these tips from the DMV in mind to help you drive distraction free:
- Stay calm.
- Anxiety and stress can be a big distraction. Take deep breaths and keep your focus on the road.
- Pull over.
- If, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to keep your focus, find a safe placeto pull over and take a break.
- Avoid pulling over on the side of a busy street, or in dark and isolated places.
- Use your passengers.
- When possible, put your passenger in charge of tasks like temperature control, GPS, or changing the music.
- Know your dials.
- This is especially important when you are driving a new car, or a car you are not used to driving.
- Get to know the car’s controls before you start driving. This will help minimize distractions in cases where you must use one of the car’s controls.
- Use your radio presets.
- Most car stereos allow you to preset stations so that you only have to press one button to hear what you want.
- Make adjustments before you start driving. These include mirrors, seat and steering wheel.
- Stay off your phone.
- Cell phone use, whether for texting or talking, is a huge distraction. Put your phone away, and do not let yourself use it until you are out of your car.
- There are even some smartphone apps that will help keep you from driving distracted.
In this multi-tasking world we live in, it is so easy to get distracted. Will you join us in taking a pledge to avoid distracted driving? It’s a pledge we intend to keep because we care about everyone’s safety and of those around us.