Today's drivers have to contend with many more possible distractions than their counterparts from 50 years ago-especially texting and driving. Distracted driving is dangerous. A sampling of distractions and hazards facing drivers today includes:
- Talking on the phone
- Eating & drinking (alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages)
- Talking to other passengers
- Adjusting the radio/navigation system, iPod, etc.
As demands on our personal and professional time increase in today's busy society, learning to multitask is something we all need to learn how to do. This has led to a new traffic safety epidemic that demands immediate attention: distracted driving.
We are all guilty of distracted driving at one point or another. Have you ever found yourself eating a burger in the car while running errands? Do you ever yell at children in the backseat? Have you ever sent a text message while driving? Any of these activities could end your life. According to Distraction.Gov, five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field.
Most people would agree talking on a cell phone and texting while driving are both dangerous habits. Most people do it anyway. 71% of drivers 20 years old and younger have admitted to sending a text while driving; 78% have said they read a text while driving. Nationally, 44/50 states have enacted a ban on texting and driving. New Mexico was the most recent, with a new law effective on July 1, 2014.
Key Facts and Statistics (www.distraction.gov)
- The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver; this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
- As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages are sent in the US (including Puerto Rico, the Territories, and Guam) every month. (CTIA)
- 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
- Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
- 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. (NOPUS)
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times. (VTTI)
Since 2011, Kentucky law has prohibited the "use of a personal communication device (for texting) while operating a motor vehicle in motion on traveled portion of roadway" (KRS 189.292). In Ohio, the law states "no person shall drive a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar on any street, highway, or property open to the public for vehicular traffic while using a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication." Local officers are trained to watch for drivers violating the law and they will pull you over if they believe you may be texting while driving. This violation is punishable by means of a $25 fine. However, the consequences of injuring yourself or others are far worse.
Remember to focus on being a safe driver. Put your phone away so you are not tempted to reach for it when it rings or you hear a text. It's not worth the risk. And preprogram locations into your GPS before you start driving.
Get to where you are going safely!