April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

| April 19, 2017 | Comments (0)

Distracted Driving Awareness

Did you know that car crashes caused by distracted drivers result in over $125 billion in economic loss and societal harm every single year?

A lot of us don’t appreciate the attention with which we should operate a vehicle, and studies show that driving while distracted is not limited to drivers of any age group. For this reason, the National Safety Council (NSC) observes April as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” All that’s asked of you this month is to reflect on—and make changes to—your own unsafe driving habits.

If we’re going to be entirely honest, it is almost impossible to focus on only one thing at a time in today’s society. That being said, driving is not a singular activity. Not only do you have to pay attention to where you’re going, you must also watch for other drivers’ actions, watch your speed, observe signage, etc., etc. You simply cannot afford to become distracted when you’re moving a 3-ton hunk of metal down the road at 40 miles per hour.

It’s estimated that over 1.5 million car accidents occur every year in the United States due to distracted driving. At any given time, approximately 660,000 drivers are using their mobile phones while operating a motor vehicle.

Distracted Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

As crazy as it sounds, distracted driving is said to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Looking down at one’s phone to read a short text is all it takes to end up in a serious accident.

Driving any vehicle requires sustained attention because of the many variables that you have to contend with and adjust to at any given time. Distracted driving makes it hard for you to regain control of your car or carry out certain evasive actions such as swerving or slamming on the breaks to avert a deadly accident.

Call Phone Use and Texting

Phones are one of the major causes of distracted driving accidents in the US. This is because they can be used in a number of ways to relay communication as well as access the internet by way of a browser or app.

Phone and app manufacturers are living in a competitive time where they have to pull out all the stops if they’re going to compete with their opponents. As a result, they fit these devices and the software with bells and whistles that can sometimes be irresistible to most people, making it hard for some drivers to ignore the ding of a text message notification or an incoming call.

Teenagers and Distracted Driving

While distracted driving affects all age groups, cell phone use (especially texting while driving) is more prevalent with teenagers and young adults. In addition, teenagers are more prone to peer pressure, which can make it more likely for them to respond to a text message faster than the average person. This makes this age group more-likely to use their phones while driving, and explains the high incidence of distracted driving wrecks among young drivers.

Here are some of the things you can (and should) do to change your bad habits:

  1. Next time you reach for your phone while driving, stop, and put it down. Remember that a crash can occur in the blink of an eye, and no text is worth getting into an accident.
  2. Make sure to silence your phone before driving, and divert all your calls to voicemail while on the road.
  3. Consider downloading an app (such as AT&T’s DriveMode) which will help silence incoming text messages and call alerts. Is your son or daughter now of driving age? Require them to use the app, and have the app alert you when it’s turned off.
  4. Teach your children about the dangers of distracted driving. Should they show signs of complying, consider rewarding them to reinforce their behavior.
  5. If you must use your phone in an emergency situation, use it in hands-free mode. Many states have banned the handheld use of mobile phones while driving, but many still allow hands-free devices to be used.

At the end of the day, making changes to your driving habits can save lives. Plain and simple. If you do not make an effort to reduce distractions behind the wheel, it’s only a matter of time until statistics catch up with you.

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